Saudis reject threats as stocks plunge after Trump comments

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia on Sunday threatened to retaliate for any sanctions imposed against it after President Donald Trump said the oil-rich kingdom deserves “severe punishment” if it is responsible for the disappearance and suspected murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

The warning from the world’s top oil exporter came after a turbulent day on the Saudi stock exchange, which plunged as much as 7 percent at one point.

The statement was issued as international concern grew over the writer who vanished on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul over a week ago. American lawmakers threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain jointly called for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

Already, international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom’s upcoming investment forum, a high-profile event known as “Davos in the Desert,” and the sell-off on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange showed that investors are uneasy.

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AP Explains: What’s known about Saudi writer’s disappearance

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared over a week ago while on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, sparking an international uproar involving the kingdom, Turkey and the United States that remains unresolved.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, had written columns critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s stalemated war in Yemen and its crackdown on activists and businessmen.

Turkish officials say they fear a team of Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi, and they have released surveillance footage of the alleged perpetrators and mysterious movements outside the consulate on Oct. 2, the day he entered. The kingdom says the allegations are “baseless” but has offered no evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

Here is a look at what we know about the disappearance.

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Korean gov’t ministers meet to discuss post-summit specifics

SEOUL, South Korea — The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

South Korea said Monday’s talks will be aimed at finding ways to carry out peace agreements announced after the summit last month between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

The meeting between senior officials comes at a sensitive time as Washington has expressed unease over the fast pace in inter-Korean engagement, which it says should move in tandem with U.S.-led efforts to denuclearize the North.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the discussions will include setting up a joint survey of a North Korean railroad section the Koreas plan to connect with the South. The North’s chief delegate to the talks is Ri Son Gwon, who chairs the North Korean agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.

There could also be discussions over the specifics of a joint military committee agreed between their leaders to evaluate tension-reduction steps and maintain communication to prevent crises and accidental clashes.

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Trump says climate change not a hoax, not sure of its source

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax but says he doesn’t know if it’s manmade and suggests that the climate will “change back again.”

In an interview with CBS’ ”60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night, Trump said he doesn’t want to put the U.S. at a disadvantage in responding to climate change.

“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”

Trump called climate change a hoax in November 2012 when he sent a tweet stating, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He later said he was joking about the Chinese connection, but in years since has continued to call global warming a hoax.

“I’m not denying climate change,” he said in the interview. “But it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about over a ... millions of years.”

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4 days after storm, large swath of Panhandle suffering

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — Crews with backhoes and other heavy equipment scooped up splintered boards, broken glass, chunks of asphalt and other debris in hurricane-flattened Mexico Beach on Sunday as the mayor held out hope for the 250 or so residents who may have tried to ride out the storm.

The death toll from Michael’s destructive march from Florida to Virginia stood at 17, with just one confirmed death so far in this Florida Panhandle town of about 1,000 people that took a direct hit from the hurricane and its 155 mph (250 kph) winds last week.

Crews worked to clear building debris along with the rubble from a collapsed section of the beachfront highway.

Mayor Al Cathey estimated 250 residents stayed behind when the hurricane struck, and he said he remained hopeful about their fate. He said search-and-rescue teams in the beach town had already combed areas with the worst damage.

“If we lose only one life, to me that’s going to be a miracle,” Cathey said.

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Trump on rally blitz as he tries to stave off Dem gains

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump gazes out over his rally crowd and looses a stream of insults with a theatrical flourish and playful grin. He jabs at Cory Booker the “disaster” mayor, Elizabeth Warren the “Pocahontas” pretender and “sleepy” Joe Biden.

“I want to be careful,” Trump tells the crowd, feigning a confession. He doesn’t want to hit his potential challengers too badly, he says, because then the Democrats may find “somebody that’s actually good to run against me. That would not be good.”

The venue may be Council Bluffs, Iowa, or Erie, Pennsylvania, or Topeka, Kansas, but the formula is largely the same.

Start with a few derisive nicknames, mix in some dreamy-eyed reminiscences of Election Night 2016, spice things up with an unexpected quip or zinger out of left field and you’ve got Trump’s recipe for a successful campaign rally.

Trump’s rallies once were the cornerstone of an unconventional, star-powered presidential campaign that eschewed traditional organizing and defied every expectation. Now they’re being deployed with gusto as Trump and his team work frantically to defy polls and precedent and save his Republican majority in Congress in November’s midterm elections.

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AP Explains: Harvard bias lawsuit heading to trial

BOSTON — A lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in Harvard University’s admissions process is heading to trial in Boston’s federal court.

The group Students for Fair Admissions has accused the Ivy League school of bias against Asian-American applicants, saying it holds them to a higher standard than students of other races.

Harvard denies any discrimination and says it considers race as one of many factors when considering applicants.

Both sides will present their cases to U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs starting Monday.

The lawsuit was filed in 2014 and carries implications for many other U.S. colleges that say they consider race to admit a diverse mix of students.

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Round of talks don’t resolve Brexit problems ahead of summit

BRUSSELS — A flurry of talks between Britain and the European Union ended Sunday without a Brexit agreement, leaving the two sides three days to close a gap in their positions before a make-or-break summit.

An unscheduled, face-to-face meeting between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and a hastily scheduled meeting of 27 EU ambassadors in Brussels, had sparked speculation that the long-awaited deal was imminent.

Barnier dashed those hopes Sunday evening, writing on Twitter: “Despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open” in the divorce talks. The key stumbling block remains the need “to avoid a hard border” between Ireland and the U.K’s Northern Ireland after Brexit, he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is under intense pressure from her Conservative Party and its parliamentary allies not to give any more ground in negotiations, especially on the border issue.

The British government said in a statement issued Sunday night there were still “unresolved issues” but insisted negotiators had made “real progress” toward a divorce agreement.

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Bavarian voters punish Merkel allies in state election

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative allies lost their absolute majority in Bavaria’s state parliament by a wide margin in a regional election Sunday, a result that could cause more turbulence within the national government.

The Christian Social Union took 37.2 percent of the vote, down from 47.7 percent five years ago. It was the party’s worst performance since 1950 in a state vote in Bavaria, which it has traditionally dominated.

Constant squabbling in Merkel’s national government and a power struggle at home have weighed on the CSU. It is traditionally a touch more right-wing than the chancellor’s party and has taken a hard-line on migration, clashing with Merkel on the issue.

There were gains for parties to its left and right. The Greens won 17.5 percent to secure second place, double their support in 2013. The far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, entered the state legislature with 10.2 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the center-left Social Democrats, Merkel’s other national coalition partner in Berlin, finished in fifth place with a disastrous 9.7 percent, less than half what they received in 2013 and their worst in the state since World War II.

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Price, Red Sox bounce back, beat Astros 7-5, tie ALCS 1-1

BOSTON — David Price was good enough, the Red Sox bullpen was even better, and Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered a go-ahead, three-run double off the Green Monster on Sunday night to lead Boston to a 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros and tie the AL Championship Series at one game apiece.

Price fell one out short of his first career postseason win as a starter but still went back to the winning clubhouse for the first time in 11 playoff starts.

Craig Kimbrel gave up an RBI single to Jose Altuve with two outs in the ninth before Alex Bregman hit a flyball that was caught on the warning track in left field to end it, handing Houston its first loss in five playoff games this year.

Astros starter Gerrit Cole, so dominant in his Division Series start against Cleveland, gave up a season-high five runs.

Game 3 is Tuesday in Houston, followed by two more at Minute Maid Park and a chance for the defending World Series champion Astros to clinch a second straight AL pennant at home.

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