Rescuers search for survivors in Italy quake that killed 159 AMATRICE, Italy (AP) - Rescue crews using bulldozers and their bare hands raced to dig out survivors Thursday from a strong earthquake that reduced three central Italian towns to rubble. The death toll stood at 159, but the number of dead and missing was uncertain given the thousands of vacationers in the area for summer's final days. Residents wakened before dawn by the temblor emerged from their crumbled homes to find what they described as apocalyptic scenes "like Dante's Inferno," with entire blocks of buildings turned into piles of sand and rock, thick dust choking the air and a putrid smell of gas.
Colombia's president rushing plebiscite on deal with rebels BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Colombia's president is moving fast to hold a plebiscite on a landmark peace deal reached with leftist rebels, presenting to congress Thursday the full text of the accord that he says will end a half-century of bloody combat. "Today is the beginning of the end to the suffering, pain and tragedy of war," President Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday night in a televised address after the deal was announced in Havana, where talks went on for four years. He said he would hold an Oct. 2 yes-or-no vote on the accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
AP EXPLAINS: How Colombia conflict developed over decades With Colombia's government and the country's biggest rebel movement announcing an agreement on a historic peace deal, The Associated Press explains how the conflict began and developed over the decades. --- HOW IT STARTED The 1948 assassination of populist firebrand Jorge Eliecer Gaitan led to a political bloodletting known as "The Violence." Tens of thousands died, and peasant groups joined with communists to arm themselves. A 1964 military attack on their main encampment led to the creation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. --- WHAT THE REBELS WANTED Though nominally Marxist, the FARC's ideology has never been well defined.
Trump, aiming to widen support, makes pitch to Hispanics TAMPA, Florida (AP) - Visiting a battleground state he can't afford to lose, Donald Trump promised Hispanics "a much better life" Wednesday in a Florida speech that continued his recent effort to soften his tone and broaden his support 11 weeks before the presidential election. And, in an interview, he suggested he would "work with" some of the immigrants in the United States illegally, stopping short of proposing a legal path to remaining in the country but suggesting a startling about-face from his previous hard-line mass deportation proposal. Yet the Republican presidential candidate also repeated his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out immigrants, underscoring the tricky balancing act he faces in retaining backing from conservatives while beckoning to moderates for their votes.
Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State WASHINGTON (AP) - More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money - either personally or through companies or groups - to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president. At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million.
Attack on American University in Afghanistan leaves 7 dead KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - An attack on the American University of Afghanistan has ended, a senior police officer said Thursday, after at least seven people were killed and more than 30 were wounded. Kabul police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said the dead included one guard, and that about 700 students had been rescued. Rahami said one foreign teacher had been wounded. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack on the university on the edge of Kabul. It was established in 2006 to offer liberal arts courses modeled on the U.S. system, and has more than 1,000 students currently enrolled.
World's first self-driving taxis debut in Singapore SINGAPORE (AP) - The world's first self-driving taxis will be picking up passengers in Singapore starting Thursday. Select members of the public will be able to hail a free ride through their smartphones in taxis operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup. While multiple companies, including Google and Volvo, have been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years, nuTonomy says it will be the first to offer rides to the public. It will beat ride-hailing service Uber, which plans to offer rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, by a few weeks. The service will start small - six cars now, growing to a dozen by the end of the year.
Thai farmers launch (bee) sting operation to stop elephants PANA, Thailand (AP) - To stop wild elephants from rampaging through their produce, farmers in Thailand put up electric fences, set off firecrackers and even switched their crops from pineapples to pumpkins, which the pachyderms don't relish much. Nothing worked, so the villagers decided on Plan Bee. In a pilot scheme run by the Thai Department of National Parks, farmers are deploying bees as a new line of defense, exploiting elephants' documented fear of bee stings. The idea to play on the phobia came out of Oxford University research and has been used successfully for several years in Africa. It's now gaining a toehold in Asia.
Jackpot: Scientists find Earth-like planet at star next door WASHINGTON (AP) - After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door. A planet that's rocky like Earth and only slightly bigger has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri , the nearest star to our solar system, scientists reported Wednesday. It is probably in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone where liquid water - a key to life - is possible, if the planet has an atmosphere. And it is a mere 4.22 light-years from Earth, or nearly 25 trillion miles. It is easily the closest potentially habitable planet ever detected outside our solar system - and one that could be reachable by tiny, unmanned space probes before the end of the century, in time for some people alive today to witness it.
Hope Solo suspended from US soccer team for 6 months CHICAGO (AP) - U.S. women's goalkeeper Hope Solo was suspended Wednesday for six months by U.S. Soccer for disparaging comments about Sweden following the Americans' early departure from the Rio Olympics. Solo called the Swedes "a bunch of cowards" for focusing on defense rather than attacking the three-time defending champion U.S. team. Sweden ousted the U.S. 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw in a quarterfinal match. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said Solo's comments were "unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players." "Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect," Gulati said.