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‘A long spiral of going down’

ODESSA, Texas — The gunman in a West Texas rampage “was on a long spiral of going down” and had been fired from his oil services job the morning he killed seven people, calling 911 both before and after the shooting began, authorities said Monday. Officers killed 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator on Saturday outside a busy Odessa movie theater after a spate of violence that spanned 10 miles, injuring around two dozen people in addition to the dead. FBI special agent Christopher Combs said Ator called the agency’s tip line as well as local police dispatch on Saturday after being fired from Journey Oilfield Services, making “rambling statements about some of the atrocities that he felt that he had gone through.” “He was on a long spiral of going down,” Combs said. “He didn’t wake up Saturday morning and walk into his company and then it happened. He went to that company in trouble.” Fifteen minutes after the call to the FBI, Combs said, a Texas state trooper unaware of the calls to authorities tried pulling over Ator for failing to signal a lane change. That was when Ator pointed an AR-style rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired on the trooper, starting a terrifying police chase as Ator sprayed bullets into passing cars, shopping plazas and killed a U.S. Postal Service employee while hijacking her mail truck. Combs said Ator “showed up to work enraged” but did not point to any specific source of his anger. Ator’s home on the outskirts of Odessa was a corrugated metal shack along a dirt road surrounded by trailers, mobile homes and oil pump jacks. On Monday, a green car without a rear windshield was parked out front, the entire residence cordoned off by police tape. Combs described it as a “strange residence” that reflected “what his mental state was going into this.” Combs said he did not know whether Ator had been diagnosed with any prior mental health problems. Online court records show Ator was arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas.

Trump blimp in the air

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Although U.S. President Donald Trump has canceled a visit to Denmark, his effigy is here in the form of a 20-foot blimp that has become synonymous with resistance to the American president. The angry, diaper-clad caricature armed with a phone known as “Baby Trump” was floating in the air Monday above a downtown Copenhagen square. Since the president last month canceled his Sept. 2-3 trip to NATO member Denmark after leaders there mocked his desire to purchase Greenland, the organizers of anti-Trump demonstrations have decided to carry on with their planned rally and decided to fly the blimp. Trump also has called off a planned trip to Poland to deal with Hurricane Dorian at home, and sent Vice President Mike Pence instead.

Guatemala arrests ex-1st lady

GUATEMALA CITY — Former Guatemalan first lady and presidential runner-up Sandra Torres, 63, was arrested Monday on charges of campaign finance violations, the latest high-profile political figure to face allegations of malfeasance even as a U.N. anti-graft commission is set to shut down. Investigators searched Torres’ Guatemala City home in the morning and transported her to court, handcuffed, with her face obscured by a scarf, a hood and dark glasses. She told journalists she was the victim of a political vendetta. Prosecutors said she is accused of unregistered electoral financing and illicit association related to the 2015 election and the National Unity of Hope party, of which she was both candidate and general secretary. According to investigators the party did not properly register some $3.6 million in financing for her campaign. The investigation found that several businesses financed the party through the payment of commissions, diversion of funds and bribes to various public and private institutions. Torres’ vice presidential running mate from 2015, Mario Leal Castillo, is also wanted in the case and is considered a fugitive from justice. Torres, 63, finished second in both the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections, to Jimmy Morales and Alejandro Giammattei, respectively. Giammattei takes office in January.

Potter removed school library

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Catholic school in Tennessee has removed the Harry Potter books from its library after the school’s priest decided they could cause a reader to conjure evil spirits. In an email obtained by The Tennessean, the Rev. Dan Reehil of Nashville’s St. Edward Catholic School said he consulted exorcists in the U.S. and Rome who recommended removing the books. Reehil wrote, “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.” Catholic Diocese of Nashville superintendent Rebecca Hammel said Reehil has the final say at his school. Hammel said she thinks the books by J.K. Rowling are still on the shelves of other libraries in the diocese.

Wife: Hart ‘going to be fine’

NEW YORK — Comic actor Kevin Hart’s wife says he’s “going to be just fine” following a weekend car crash that left him with a major back injury. Eniko Hart was questioned by a TMZ reporter while visiting him at the hospital Monday. She gave no details. Hart was a passenger in a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda that went off a highway above Malibu in the early morning hours of Sunday. It rolled down an embankment, after the driver lost control while turning from a canyon road onto Mulholland Highway. The 40-year-old Hart and the car’s driver, Jared Black, both had back injuries. Another passenger, 31-year-old Rebecca Broxterman, only complained of pain.

Festival showcases Saudi Arabia

AL-SOUDAH, Saudi Arabia — Atop a string of green mountains in Saudi Arabia, a monthlong festival drew a medley of yoga enthusiasts, extreme adventure seekers, tourists and traditional Saudi families — many wearing colorful flower crowns native to the region as the kingdom looks for ways to revamp its image and build up tourism. The al-Soudah festival, which ran throughout the month of August, gave visitors a chance to experience a unique region in Saudi Arabia and take part in outdoor sports like hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, horseback riding, zip lining and bungee jumping. Thousands also attended concerts by Middle Eastern superstars. Scenes of women zip lining and young Saudis at concerts, while nevertheless in a remote village, are a stark departure from the ultraconservative policies that for decades barred concerts and gender mixing, as well as shunned women’s sports in the kingdom. The reforms are being pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s powerful 34-year-old son. He is looking to revamp the country’s economy to become more resilient in the face of lower oil prices. Boosting domestic spending and opening the country to foreign tourists are seen as ways to create more jobs for the millions of young Saudis who will be entering the workforce and looking for jobs in the coming years. The al-Soudah festival attracted between 12,000 and 15,000 visitors per day, said Husameddin al-Madani, who oversaw the event. Most visitors to the festival were Saudi citizens, but it also drew foreign tourists. Unlike Saudi Arabia’s major cities — which have limited outdoor spaces for sports, especially for women who must wear long flowing robes known as abayas in public — Saudi women in al-Soudah wore fitted jeans and sneakers under their rolled up abayas to hike up the mountain. Other Saudi women were seen zip lining between cliffs. In keeping with local custom, many kept their faces and hair covered.

NYC hosts Caribbean parade

NEW YORK (AP) — Steel bands and revelers sporting elaborate costumes, Caribbean flags and some rain ponchos marched and danced in a West Indian American Day Parade dampened by weather and awash in cultural pride. The annual parade in Brooklyn is one of the nation’s largest celebrations of Caribbean heritage. It starts after an early morning celebration called J’Ouvert (joo-VAY’). Monday’s parade unfolded under on-and-off rain and security that has been tightened in recent years after past outbreaks of violence. Policing of the parade has also been an issue at times. Then-City Councilman Jumaane (joo-MAH’-nee) Williams and another official were detained while trying to get to a parade event in 2011. Williams, a Democrat, is now the city’s elected public advocate and a parade grand marshal.

Cyprus repays Russian loan

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ finance minister says the east Mediterranean island nation has repaid ahead of schedule the remaining 1.58 billion euros ($1.73 billion) of a 2.5 billion euro ($2.74 billion) loan it received from Russia in 2011 amid a brewing financial crisis. Harris Georgiades saidMonday that the repayment is two years in advance without Cyprus incurring a penalty thanks to an early payback clause. Cyprus got the loan with a 2.5% interest rate to buoy its economy as its banking system faced a meltdown. Cyprus staved off bankruptcy after accepting a 2013 rescue deal from other eurozone countries and the international Monetary Fund. Cyprus’ economy has since rebounded strongly. The economy grew by 3.2% of gross domestic product in the second quarter of this year.

Taliban claims Kabul blast

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, just hours after a U.S. envoy briefed the Afghan government on an agreement “in principle” with the insurgent group that would see 5,000 U.S. troops leave the country within five months. Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahmi said at least five civilians were killed and around 50 wounded, but said the toll could still rise because a number of homes were destroyed. He confirmed that the target of the blast was the Green Village compound, which houses several international organizations and guesthouses. The explosion sent a plume of smoke into the night sky over Kabul and caused a nearby gasoline station to burst into flames. Another interior ministry official, Bahar Maher, said the blast was caused by a car bomb. “It was a horrifying explosion,” a witness, Wali Jan, said. One hospital director, Dr. Nezamuddin Jalil, said the wounded included women and children. Video showed bloodied people streaming into a hospital. Green Village, home to many foreigners and heavily guarded by Afghan forces and private security guards, has been a frequent target.

Circus elephants will be retired

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark is spending 11 million kroner ($1.6 million) to buy the country’s last four circus elephants to give them a proper retirement as the government moves to ban wild animals in circuses. Food and Fisheries Minister Mogens Jensen says a ban on wild animals in circuses is expected later this year. The ministry said Saturday there were no immediate plans as to where to put Ramboline, Lara, Djunga and Jenny, but applicants willing to take the mammals should offer a timely takeover and proper welfare. In the meantime, Animal Protection Denmark would ensure their welfare until then. Circus Arena manager Benny Berdino said he was “sad to have to say goodbye” to its elephants, but was happy they would get a good retirement.

Labor Day parade canceled

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. — Authorities canceled a New Jersey Labor Day parade that the governor was supposed to attend Monday because “destructive devices” were found near the parade route. Thomas Kaiser, 55, of South Plainfield, was charged with two counts of possession of a destructive device for an unlawful purpose, with additional charges expected, Middlesex County prosecutors and local police said. Authorities said a suspicious package containing a destructive device was left at Donovan’s Reef bar in Sea Bright. That prompted an investigation Sunday that led to Kaiser’s home, and other devices were found near the residence. Since the home is located near the start of the South Plainfield Labor Day parade, the event was canceled “out of an abundance of caution and due to the potential threat to the community,” prosecutors and police said. Gov. Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy had planned to march in the 62nd annual event.

New scrutiny as Congress returns

SEATTLE — Lawmakers around the country are making a renewed push to ban high-capacity magazines that gunmen have used in many recent massacres, allowing them to inflict mass casualties at a startling rate before police can stop the carnage. Nine states have passed laws restricting magazine capacity to 10 to 15 bullets, and the Democratic-led U.S. House plans to consider a similar ban at the federal level in the coming weeks. In arguing for the bans, politicians, experts and gun-control advocates point out that in the time it takes for a driver to wait through a stop light, a shooter with a 100-round magazine can kill and injure dozens of people. The man who opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, last month killed nine people and injured 27 others in only 30 seconds, in part because of the 100-bullet drum attached to his rifle. It only took 85 seconds for a gunman to empty several 30-round magazines at an IHOP in Carson City, Nevada, killing four people and injuring 14 in 2011.

UAW president joins parade

DETROIT — The United Auto Workers president walked a portion of Detroit’s traditional Labor Day parade just days after FBI agents searched his home while a small group of protesting union members called for his resignation. UAW President Gary Jones exited Monday’s parade route before its completion and didn’t speak to union members gathered afterward. UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg told the Detroit News that Jones left because of another commitment. Federal agents searched Jones’ suburban Detroit home Wednesday in apparently another step in a corruption investigation of union officials and Fiat Chrysler executives. Some union members at the parade told the Detroit Free Press that unity is needed for current contract talks with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. About 20 marchers hoisted signs with messages such as “Reform the UAW!”

Iran says test malfunctioned

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran acknowledged for the first time on Monday that a rocket at its Imam Khomeini Space Center exploded after satellite photos showed the blast last week, with an official saying a technical malfunction during a test caused the explosion. The comments by government spokesman Ali Rabiei were the first explanation offered by Iran for Thursday’s explosion, which came ahead of a planned satellite launch by the Islamic Republic that the U.S. has criticized. Rabiei also criticized President Donald Trump for tweeting what appeared to be a surveillance photo of the aftermath of the explosion shot by a U.S. spy satellite. The explosion marked the third failure involving a rocket at the Iranian center, which has raised suspicions of sabotage in Iran’s space program. However, Rabiei dismissed that, saying that “this has been a technical matter and a technical error.”

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