Medical examiner says suicide
NEW YORK — New York City’s medical examiner ruled Jeffrey Epstein’s death a suicide Friday, confirming after nearly a week of speculation that the financier hanged himself in his jail cell. Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City on Aug. 10, touching off outrage and disbelief over how such a high-profile prisoner, known for socializing with powerful people including presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, could have gone unwatched. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement that she made the suicide determination “after careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy findings.” The Bureau of Prisons said at the time Epstein had apparently killed himself, but that didn’t squelch conspiracy theories about his death. One of Epstein’s lawyers, Marc Fernich, declined to comment.
Tlaib declines to visit West Bank
JERUSALEM — Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Friday she would not visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank, despite being granted an Israeli permit on humanitarian grounds, saying Israel’s “oppressive” conditions aimed to humiliate her. Israel barred Tlaib and another Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, from visiting Jerusalem and the West Bank over their support for the international boycott movement following an unprecedented appeal from President Donald Trump to deny them entry. Israel had said Tlaib could visit relatives in the West Bank on humanitarian grounds. But then the Interior Ministry released a letter purportedly signed by Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit. That appears to have led to her decision to cancel the visit. “Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart,” she said in a statement. “Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me — it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.” Tlaib and Omar had planned to visit Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank next week on a tour organized by a Palestinian group. The two are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and support the Palestinian-led international movement boycotting Israel.
Court: US can reject asylum
HOUSTON — A federal appeals court on Friday cleared the way for the U.S. government to forbid Central American immigrants from seeking asylum at the two busiest stretches of the southern border in a partial legal victory for the Trump administration. The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows President Donald Trump to enforce the policy in New Mexico and Texas, rejecting asylum seekers who cross from Mexico into either state. Under Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar’s July 24 order stopping the policy would apply only in California and Arizona, which are covered by the 9th Circuit. The two busiest areas for unauthorized border crossings are in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and the region around El Paso, Texas, which includes New Mexico. Nearly 50,000 people in July crossed the U.S. border without permission in those two regions, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. The policy would deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there. Most crossing the southern border are Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty, who would largely be ineligible. The policy would also apply to people from Africa, Asia, and South America who come to the southern border to request asylum. If the policy is implemented, ineligible migrants who cross in New Mexico and Texas could be detained and more quickly deported. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Greenland: We’re not for sale
TASIILAQ, Greenland — Greenlanders are giving Donald Trump the cold shoulder. Although amused, they’re definitely not warming up to the U.S. president’s talk of buying the semiautonomous Danish territory. “We see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer,” the Greenland government said Friday in a short statement. “Of course, Greenland is not for sale.” Reports that Trump had spoken about the notion of buying the land mass, which lies between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, were good for a laugh, residents said. “He has nothing to do with Greenland,” said 28-year-old Martina M.D.D. Tay, who was born and raised in Tasiilaq, a coastal Greenland town of about 2,000 people. “I think it’s a ridiculous idea. I think it sounds stupid.”
US stocks end turbulent week
You’re not the only one confused about where the economy is headed. Just look at the stock market, where perplexed investors have been sending stocks on a wild ride in August. And there could be plenty more where that came from. Two notoriously volatile months for stocks lie just ahead. Stocks around the world jumped Friday to cap another tumultuous week. Investors have been frantically trying to rejigger their predictions about whether President Donald Trump’s trade war and slowing economies around the world will drag the United States into a recession. In the U.S., the result was a week where the Dow Jones Industrial Average had four days where it rose or fell by more than 300 points — with an 800-point drop thrown into the mix. On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 1.4%. The Dow climbed 1.2% and the Nasdaq picked up 1.7%. But each index still finished with a third-straight weekly decline. Stocks, bonds and other investments heaved up and down throughout the week, with worries hitting a crescendo on Wednesday when a fairly reliable warning signal of recession flipped on in the U.S. Treasury market.
Hundreds defy restrictions
NEW DELHI — Hundreds of people protested an unprecedented security crackdown and clashed with police Friday in Indian-controlled Kashmir, as India’s government said it was constantly reviewing the situation in the disputed region and the restrictions there will be removed over the next few days. The U.N. Security Council met on Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in decades, and Pakistan’s ambassador to the world body said the session showed that people in the region “may be locked up … but their voices were heard today.” The Security Council took no action during the closed meeting, which was called for by China and Pakistan. A heavy troop presence and a near-constant curfew and communications blackout remained in place in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir for a 12th day. The government imposed the lockdown to avoid a violent reaction to its decision on Aug. 5 to downgrade the autonomy of the Muslim-majority Kashmir region. Both India and Pakistan claim the Himalayan region, which is divided between the nuclear-armed rivals. The decision by the Hindu-led government in New Delhi has raised tensions with Pakistan and touched off anger in the Indian-controlled region. Young and old demonstrators took to the streets in Srinagar, the region’s main city, after Friday prayers. They carried green Islamic flags and signs reading “Stop Genocide in Kashmir, Wake Up World.”
Police seek to question man
NEW YORK — Three abandoned devices that looked like pressure cookers caused an evacuation of a major New York City subway station and closed off an intersection in another part of town Friday morning before police determined the objects were not explosives. Police were looking to talk to a man seen on surveillance video taking two of the objects — which police identified as rice cookers — out of a shopping cart and placing them in a subway station in lower Manhattan. In photos released by authorities, the young man is seen standing by an elevator and then lugging a cooker in. But police stressed that so far, it wasn’t clear whether he was trying to frighten people or merely throwing the objects away. “I would stop very short of calling him a suspect,” said John Miller, the New York Police Department’s top counterterror official. “It is possible that somebody put out a bunch of items in the trash today and this guy picked them up and then discarded them, or it’s possible that this was an intentional act.” Earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had said authorities suspected the items were placed in the subway “to suggest that they were electronic devices and possible bombs.”
Football game back on
PLANO, Texas — A Dallas-area district where the El Paso shooting suspect graduated from high school has reinstated a September football game with an El Paso school that had cancelled because of fears that extremists would use it as a platform to get attention. Sara Bonser, superintendent of the Plano Independent School District, announced the reinstatement Friday of the game between Eastwood High School of El Paso and Plano Senior High School. The Plano school was attended by Patrick Crosius, the 21-year-old man police say has confessed to the Aug. 3 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart that killed 22 people. Bonser had cancelled the game Thursday, citing concerns for the safety of players, students, parents and fans. The decision drew some criticism from officials of the Ysleta Independent School District, where Eastwood High is situated.
Churches arm, train congregants
HASLET, Texas — Acrid gun smoke clouded the sunny entrance of a Texas church on a recent Sunday. Seven men wearing heavy vests and carrying pistols loaded with blanks ran toward the sound of the shots, stopping at the end of a long hallway. As one peeked into the foyer, the “bad guy” raised the muzzle of an AR-15, took aim and squeezed the trigger. The simulated gunfight at the church in Haslet was part of a niche industry that trains civilians to protect their churches using the techniques and equipment of law enforcement. Rather than a bullet, the rifle fired a laser that hit Stephen Hatherley’s vest — triggering an electric shock the 60-year-old Navy veteran later described as a “tingle.” The shootings this month killed more than 30 people at an El Paso Walmart and Dayton, Ohio entertainment district. But gunmen have also targeted houses of worships in recent years, includinga church in rural Sutherland Springs, Texas, where more than two dozen people were shot dead in 2017. The anxiety of one mass shooting after another has led some churches to start training and arming their worshippers with guns. Not all security experts support this approach, but it has gained momentum as congregations across the country grapple with how to secure spaces where welcoming strangers is a religious practice.
FCC fines networks over system
NEW YORK — Jimmy Kimmel has learned an expensive lesson: don’t mess with the government’s emergency alert system. Kimmel’s network, ABC, was one of four media organizations fined by the Federal Communications Commission this week for improper use of the emergency signal that is sent over television, radio and mobile phones to warn people of danger like floods and fires. The $395,000 fine to ABC was by far the stiffest. FCC rules prohibit the use of the signal for any purpose other than an actual emergency. The idea is to prevent confusion, the agency said Friday. Kimmel used the signal three times as part of a skit on his show on Oct. 3, 2018. ABC has signed a consent decree agreeing to pay the fine and promising not to improperly use the emergency tones again, the FCC announced Thursday. AMC network agreed to pay a $104,000 fine for improper use of the signal in an episode of its most popular show, “The Walking Dead,” in February, the FCC said.
More than 200 animals removed
PIKEVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee woman who authorities say had more than 200 animals inside her home has been charged with animal cruelty. News outlets report all animals had been taken away by Friday afternoon from the home of Caroline Adkins in Pikeville. More than 160 dogs and more than 40 cats were reportedly on the property. Karen McMeekin of A Time 4 Paws Rescue in Crossville says she received an anonymous tip about the house Monday. Bledsoe County Sheriff’s Office Detective George Hodge says a veterinarian was called to the home and determined the animals needed to be removed. Animal rescue groups in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma are taking in some of the dogs and cats. It’s unclear whether Adkins had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
More kids ingesting marijuana
BOSTON — Massachusetts health care officials say there has been an increase in calls to the state’s poison control center about toddlers ingesting marijuana products. The Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention says the number of calls about children 5 years old and younger nearly tripled in the first seven months since recreational pot shops opened in November. The Boston Globe reports children have been getting into marijuana products including brownies, chocolate bars or gummies and ending up in the emergency room. Adina Sheroff, a registered nurse and poison specialist, tells the paper that young children are especially vulnerable to overdose because the concentration of THC in the products is intended for adult use and overwhelms children’s bodies. Sheroff says the center has not recorded any deaths from these exposures in children.
Outage snarls traffic into US
Travelers entering the U.S. experienced delays because of a technology outage affecting Customs and Border Protection stations at several major airports. CBP said Friday that it was experiencing a temporary outage with its processing systems and was working to fix the problem. Airports tweeted that CBP officers were manually processing travelers — Americans as well as foreign visitors. CBP said its officers processed travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining security.