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VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican expressed “shame and sorrow” on Thursday about a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report about clergy who raped and molested children in six dioceses and decried the abuse as “criminally and morally reprehensible.”

In uncharacteristically strong language for the Holy See even in matters like the long running abuse scandals staining the U.S. church, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that victims should know “the pope is on their side.”

Pope Francis himself wasn’t quoted in the statement, and there was no mention of demands in the United States among some Catholics for the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington.

The grand jury report made public this week accused the cardinal of helping to protect some molester priests while he was previously bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylania.

Burke, in the statement, described the abuse in the report as “betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

Pope Francis had recently accepted the resignation from cardinal’s rank of former Washington archbishop Theodore McCarrick for alleged sexual misconduct. It was the first time a prelate had lost his cardinal’s rank in a sexual abuse scandal, and Francis was stepping up his crackdown on the abuse to include some of the highest ranking churchmen.

Burke said that Francis “understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society.”

The grand jury report documented how pedophile priests were often protected by church hierarchy or moved to other postings without the faithful being told of the priests’ sexual predatory history.

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The new leader of Amnesty International says many world leaders, especially President Donald Trump, are rolling back gains made in respecting human rights.

Kumi Naidoo describes the Trump administration’s separation of families at U.S. borders as “one of the worst atrocities” the world has seen in a long time.

The South African-born former anti-apartheid activist began a four-year term at the helm of the London-based rights group on Wednesday. He says the challenges to human rights in the world today mean that his organization must show “maximum courage.”

He singles out the governments of Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Yemen and the Philippines as ones he says are failing to respect human rights.

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GENOA, Italy (AP) — The death toll from the collapse of a highway bridge in the Italian city of Genoa that is already confirmed to have claimed 39 lives will certainly rise, a senior official said Thursday.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told reporters: “Unfortunately, the toll will increase, that’s inevitable.” as searchers continued to comb through tons of jagged steel, concrete and dozens of vehicles that plunged as much as 45 meters (150 feet) into a dry river bed on Tuesday, the eve of Italy’s main summer holiday.

Salvini declined to cite a number of the missing, saying that would be “supposition,” but separately Genoa Chief Prosecutor Francesco Cozzi told reporters there could be between 10 and 20 people still buried under the rubble.

“The search and rescue operations will continue until we find all those people that are listed as missing,” Sonia Noci, a spokeswoman for Genoa firefighters, told The Associated Press.

Italy is planning a state funeral for the dead in the port city Saturday, which will be marked as a day of national mourning. The service will be held in a pavilion on the industrial city’s fair grounds and led by Genoa’s archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has said the collapse is an “absurd” catastrophe that has stricken the entire nation.

At least six of the dead are foreigners — four French citizens and two Albanians.

Authorities say they don’t know how many vehicles were on the bridge when it collapsed in a violent rain storm.

Cozzi has said the investigation of the cause is focusing on possible inadequate maintenance of the 1967 Morandi Bridge or possible design flaws.

Premier Giuseppe Conte says his government won’t wait until prosecutors finish investigating the collapse to withdraw the concession from the main private company that maintains Italy’s highways, Atlantia.

The bridge links two heavily traveled highways, one leading to France, the other to Milan.

A 20 million-euro ($22.7 million) project to upgrade the bridge’s safety had already been approved, with public bids to be submitted by September. According to business daily Il Sole, improvement work would have involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge — including one that collapsed Tuesday.

The bridge, considered innovative when it opened in 1967 for its use of concrete around its cables, was long due for an upgrade, especially since it carried more traffic than its designers had envisioned. Some architects have said the choice of encasing its cables in reinforced concrete was risky since it’s harder to detect corrosion of the metal cables inside.
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Frances D’Emilio reported from Rome. Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.

Follow D’Emilio at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

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ROME (AP) — Italy’s deputy premier, Luigi Di Maio, is blaming the collapse of a major highway bridge in Genoa on a lack of maintenance by the private company that operates many of the nation’s toll highways.

Speaking in Genoa, Di Maio said Wednesday that he was looking at revoking highway concessions.

He said of the holding company that controls Autostrade Per Italia: “instead of investing money for maintenance, they divide the profits and that is why the bridge falls.”

Di Maio, who leads the anti-business 5-Star Movement party that is part of Italy’s coalition government, took a swipe at the Benneton group, which controls Autostrade SRL through its Atlantia holding company. He blamed previous Italian governments of turning a blind eye to the health of the nation’s toll highways because of political contributions.

Autostrade controls 3,020 kilometers (1,876 miles) of Italian highways.

Genoa prosecutor Francesco Cozzi says the investigation into the fatal bridge collapse is focusing on maintenance and the design of the 51-year-old bridge.

Cozzi told reporters Wednesday that he didn’t know if anyone bore legal responsibility for the collapse that killed at least 39 people but he said “for sure it was not an accident.”

Cozzi said there were no pending complaints involving the bridge in recent years, and that they were also checking archives.

But he noted if there had been serious concerns about the safety of the bridge in the prosecutor’s office “none of us would have driven over that highway 20 times a month as we do.”

Still, the head of Italy’s transport department has said that a $22.7 million safety upgrade for the bridge had been planned.

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MILAN (AP) — A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed Tuesday in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble. Italian officials said at least 20 people were killed, although some people were found alive in the debris.

A huge section of the Morandi Bridge fell at midday over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete onto warehouses below. Photos from the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive gap between two sections of the bridge.

The head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, said 30-35 cars and three heavy trucks were on the 80-meter (260-foot) section of the bridge that collapsed.

Hundreds of firefighters and emergency officials were searching for survivors in the rubble with heavy equipment. Firefighters said at least two people were pulled alive from vehicles and taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Video of the collapse captured a man screaming: “Oh, God! Oh, God!” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the gaping hole in the bridge and the tires of a tractor trailer in the rubble.

There was confusion over the exact death toll.

Borrelli said at a news conference in Rome that 20 people were killed and 13 injured. All the victims appeared to all have been in vehicles that plunged from the bridge, he said.

But an Italian transport official, Edoardo Rixi, had said 22 people were killed and 13 injured, and the governor of the Liguria region, Giovanni Toti, also said 22 were killed. Rixi said the death toll was expected to rise.

The collapse came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary. It’s the high point of the Italian summer holiday season when most cities and business are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains. That means traffic could have been heavier than usual on the Genoa highway.

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is 45 meters (148 feet) high and just over a kilometer (.6 miles) long.

Borrelli said highway engineers were checking other parts of the bridge and that some areas were being evacuated as a precaution. He said they were still trying to figure out the reason for the collapse.

“You can see there are very big portions of the bridge (that collapsed). We need to remove all of the rubble to ascertain that all of the people have been reached,” he said, adding that more than 280 rescue workers and dogs units were on the scene.

“Operations are ongoing to extract people imprisoned below parts of the bridge and twisted metal,” he said.

Borrelli said there was no construction going on at the time on the bridge.

Firefighters told The Associated Press they were worried about gas lines exploding in the area from the collapse.

Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli called the collapse “an enormous tragedy.”

ANSA said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later in the day.

“We are following minute by minute the situation,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Twitter.

The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.

On Aug. 6, another major accident occurred on an Italian highway near the northern city of Bologna. A tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck and getting hit from behind. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

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LONDON (AP) — A car crashed into pedestrians and cyclists near the Houses of Parliament in London Tuesday and police arrested a man on suspicion of terrorism, heightening tensions in a city that has seen a string-of vehicle-based terror attacks.

Two people were taken to local hospitals, but authorities said the injuries aren’t believed to be life-threatening.

Armed police swooped into the area after the incident was reported at 7:37 a.m., arresting the car driver and cordoning off streets surrounding the heart of Britain’s government. The nearby Westminster subway station was closed, and police asked people to stay away from the area.

“At this stage, we are treating this as a terrorist incident and the (Metropolitan Police) Counter Terrorism Command is now leading the investigation,” the police said in a statement.

A man in his late 20s was arrested at the scene on suspicion of terrorist offenses, police said. Images from Sky News and social media showed a man in a puffy black jacket who was surrounded by officers before being handcuffed and led away from a silver car.

Eyewitnesses said the car was traveling at high speed when it hit several pedestrians and cyclists, then crashed into barriers outside the Houses of Parliament. Several suggested the incident was deliberate.

“The car drove at speed into the barriers outside the House of Lords. There was a loud bang from the collision and a bit of smoke,” Ewelina Ochab told The Associated Press.

“The driver did not get out. The guards started screaming to people to move away.”
Jason Williams also saw a car moving at high speed.

“It didn’t look like an accident,” he said. “How do you do that by accident?”

The same area was the site of a terror attack in March 2017, when Khalid Masood ploughed a car into crowds on Westminster Bridge, killing four people. Masood abandoned his car and then stabbed and killed a police officer before being shot dead in a courtyard outside Parliament.

Less than three months later, a van rammed into pedestrians on London Bridge before three men abandoned the vehicle and attacked weekend revelers in the nearby Borough Market. Eight people were killed and 48 injured in the attack.

On June 19, 2017, a man drove a van into a crowd of worshippers leaving a mosque in north London, killing one man and injuring eight others.

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s president appeared to escalate a dispute with the United States that has helped foment a Turkish currency crisis, claiming Tuesday that his country will boycott U.S.-made electronic goods. Behind the scenes, however, diplomats resumed contact to ease tensions.

Addressing a conference of his ruling party faithful in the capital, Recep Tayyip Erdogan added fuel to the spat with the U.S., even as local business groups called on his government to settle the dispute through diplomacy.

Investors seemed to look through the fiery rhetoric, pushing the lira off record lows on reports that Turkish and U.S. government officials held talks on Monday.

“We will implement a boycott against America’s electronic goods,” Erdogan told the conference. He suggested Turks would buy local or Korean phones instead of U.S.-made iPhones, though it was unclear how he intended to enforce the boycott.

The move is seen to be in retaliation to United States’ decision to sanction two Turkish ministers over the continued detention of an American pastor on terror-related charges, and to double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports.

Behind the scenes, however, diplomatic dialogue appears to have resumed. Turkey’s state-run news agency and U.S. officials say U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton had met with the Turkish ambassador to Washington on Monday.

That helped ease tensions in financial markets, with the Turkish lira stabilizing somewhat near record lows. It was up 5 percent on Tuesday, at 6.55 per dollar, having fallen 42 percent so far this year, with most of those losses coming in recent weeks.

Investors are worried not only about Turkey’s souring relations with the U.S., a longtime NATO ally, but also Erdogan’s economic policies and the country’s high debt accumulated in foreign currencies. Independent economists say Erdogan should let the central bank raise interest rates to support the currency, but he wants low rates to keep the economic growth going.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the industrialists’ group TUSIAD and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges called on the government to allow the central bank to raise interest rates to help overcome the currency crisis.

The business groups also urged diplomatic efforts with the United States and an improvement in relations with the European Union, which is Turkey’s major trading partner.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the finance chief would address hundreds of foreign investors on Thursday in a teleconference.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia typically brushes off new U.S. sanctions. Not this time.
The Trump administration announcement of export restrictions in response to accusations Moscow used a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy in Britain sent the ruble tumbling to a two-year low and drew a stern warning from its prime minister.

While the initial sanctions may have a limited impact, a second batch expected within months could hit the Russian economy much harder and send already tense relations into a tailspin.

If sanctions are expanded even further to target Russia’s top state-controlled banks, freezing their dollar transactions — as proposed under legislation introduced in the Senate this month — it would amount to a “declaration of economic war,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday.

So much for President Donald Trump’s hopes for better relations with Moscow.

On his watch, the U.S. has imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia for human rights abuses, meddling in the U.S. election and Russian military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. For the most part, they have punished Russian officials and associates of President Vladimir Putin rather than targeting broad economic sectors.

In 2014, both the U.S. and European Union introduced sanctions that restricted Russia’s access to global financial markets and to equipment for new energy projects.

Those measures were punishing, but the sanctions announced by the Trump administration this past week could be even worse.

The restrictions were triggered under U.S. law on chemical weapons following a formal U.S. determination that Russia used the Novichok nerve agent to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury in March.

The first tranche, due to take effect Aug. 22, will deny export licenses to Russia for the purchase of many items with national security implications. Existing sanctions already prohibit the export of most military and security-related items, but now the ban will be extended to goods such as gas turbine engines, electronics and calibration equipment that were previously allowed on a case-by-case basis. The State Department said it could potentially affect hundreds of millions of dollars in trade.

“It’s a significant step, but not an overwhelming one,” said Daniel Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired last year.

The penny could drop, though, in three months’ time.

Russia has 90 days to “provide assurances” that it will not use chemical weapons in the future and allow inspections. If Russia does not comply, Trump will be obligated to impose a second set of sanctions, applying restrictions on at least three from a menu of options: opposing multilateral bank assistance to Russia, broad restrictions on exports and imports, downgrading diplomatic relations, prohibiting air carrier landing rights and barring U.S. banks from making loans to the Russian government. That could do significantly more economic harm and have a lasting, destabilizing effect on the currency and stock markets.

Senior Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov said a second set of sanctions may be inevitable and predicted it would pitch relations to new low. The relationship is already routinely described as at its worst since the Cold War.

“They are demanding that Russia (accepts) an obligation to refrain from any further use of chemical and bacteriological weapons, which amounts to our acknowledgement that we have used it. But we haven’t,” he said.

Things could get even worse if the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, which a bipartisan group of senators introduced Aug. 2, makes its way through Congress. It would target Russia’s state-controlled banks and freeze their operations in dollars, which would deal a heavy blow to the Russian economy. The prospects for the legislation becoming law remain uncertain.

Medvedev warned the U.S. that such a move would cross a red line and would warrant a Russian response by economic, political or “other means” he did not specify. His tough tone was a departure from past nonchalance from Putin and his lieutenants over the impact of Western sanctions on the Russian economy.

Vladimir Vasilyev, a researcher with the Institute of the U.S. and Canada, a government-funded Moscow think tank, said U.S.-Russian ties were now approaching “the point of no return with no prospect for improvement” in sight.

Fried said that in addition to uncertainty over sanctions, Moscow’s strong response this time is likely also being fueled by larger inconsistencies in U.S. policy toward Russia. While Trump has hankered for closer ties with Putin, the government he leads has been far less accommodating.

“Whatever deal the Russians had or thought they had or thought they could get from President Donald Trump, they’re not able to get it from Trump’s administration,” Fried said.

The State Department denied inconsistency in U.S. policy and maintained that sanctions were aimed at encouraging improved behavior from Russia. “We’d like to have a better relationship with the Russian government, recognizing that we have a lot of areas of mutual concern,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Congress has a less diplomatic view.

Trump has repeatedly come under fire from lawmakers, including from his own Republican Party, for his conciliatory statements on Russia, particularly at his joint press conference with Putin at their summit in Helsinki last month where he appeared to doubt U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia intervened in the 2016 election.

Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was among lawmakers who welcomed the U.S. sanctions announced this week. “It’s critical that we use every tool at our disposal to confront Putin’s use of chemical weapons, as well as his efforts to undermine our democracy,” the Republican from California said.

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By ANDI JATMIKO, Associated Press
TANJUNG, Indonesia (AP) — The Indonesian island of Lombok was shaken by a third big earthquake in little more than a week Thursday as the official death toll from the most powerful of the quakes topped 300.

The strong aftershock, measured at magnitude 5.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey, caused panic, damage to buildings, landslides and injuries. It was centered in the northwest of the island and didn’t have the potential to cause a tsunami, Indonesia’s geological agency said.

Videos showed rubble strewn across streets and clouds of dust enveloping buildings. In northern Lombok, some people leaped from their vehicles on a traffic-jammed road while an elderly woman standing in the back of a pickup truck wailed “God is Great.” An Associated Press reporter in the provincial capital, Mataram, saw people injured by the quake and a hospital moving patients outside.
The aftershock caused more “trauma,” said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Wiranto, Indonesia’s top security minister, told reporters the death toll from Sunday’s magnitude 7.0 quake had risen to 319. The announcement came after an inter-agency meeting was called to resolve wildly different figures from various government offices.

“We are taking action as fast as we can to handle this disaster,” he said.

Nguroho said in statement that the death toll will continue to rise because rescue workers are still finding victims in the ruins of collapsed buildings and some people who are already buried are not yet included in the official toll.

Grieving relatives were burying their dead and medics tended to people whose broken limbs hadn’t yet been treated in the days since the quake. The Red Cross said it was focusing relief efforts on an estimated 20,000 people yet to get any assistance.

In Kopang Daya village in the hard-hit Tanjung district of north Lombok, a distraught family was burying their 13-year-old daughter who was struck by a collapsing wall and then trampled when Sunday’s quake caused a stampede at her Islamic boarding school.

Villagers and relatives prayed outside a tent where the girl’s body lay covered in a white cloth.

“She was praying when the earthquake happened,” said her uncle Tarna, who gave a single name. “She was trying to get out, but she got hit by a wall and fell down. Children were running out from the building in panic and she was stepped on by her friends.”

Nearly 68,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Sunday’s quake and 270,000 people are homeless or otherwise displaced, according to the disaster agency’s latest update.

“People are always saying they need water and tarps,” said Indonesian Red Cross spokesman Arifin Hadi. He said the agency has sent 20 water trucks to five remote areas, including one village of about 1,200 households.

In Kopang Daya, injured villagers got their first proper treatment Thursday after medics arrived with a portable X-ray machine and other supplies. They tended to an elderly woman with an injured face and hips who had been knocked over by her grandson as they scrambled from their house.

“Her son managed to get out from the house when the earthquake hit but the grandmother and grandson were left behind,” said a relative, Nani Wijayanti. “The grandson tried to help the grandmother to get out but he pushed too hard.”

A July 29 quake on Lombok killed 16 people.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Wiranto, who goes by one name, said the government will develop a plan to rebuild communities on Lombok, which like its more famous neighbor Bali is a popular tourist destination with powder white beaches, mountains and a lush interior.

“We will make a new roadmap for what we are going to do after this emergency response is finished,” he said. “For example, how we can deal with the number of damaged houses, mosques, schools, hospitals. Who will rebuild and how much money and how long it takes.”

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Associated Press journalists Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Firdia Lisnawati in Mataram, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

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