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He rowed the Atlantic

A New Yorker who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean for AIDS awareness has arrived home in Brooklyn, ending a 21-month journey.

Victor Mooney arrived at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Friday and plans a ceremony at the Brooklyn Bridge on Monday, he said Saturday.

"I'm happy to be in Brooklyn," Mooney said. "I still haven't absorbed it."

The 49-year-old rows in memory of his brother, who died of AIDS in 1983. He said his goal is to spur people to get tested for HIV.

After failing on three previous attempts to row solo across the Atlantic, Mooney set off from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa on Feb. 19, 2014.

Mooney arrived at the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Maarten in June 2014 and began making his way up the East Coast.

He lost 80 pounds and encountered numerous setbacks during the journey.

Mooney was robbed of his passport and food on an island off Haiti in November 2014; his passport was later recovered.

In August, the Coast Guard rescued him off North Carolina after his boat hit a submerged cypress stump and began taking on water. The boat was repaired, and he continued on his way.

"I'm just grateful that I've been able to continue and to never give up," Mooney said. "It's just to encourage folks to get tested for HIV in memory of my brother."

Unruly Lohan diverts flight

Authorities say a coast-to-coast flight was diverted to New Orleans to remove singer Lindsay Lohan's stepmother.

Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, confirmed in an email Saturday that Kate Major-Lohan was removed from a JetBlue plane on Wednesday. He says Major-Lohan is married to Lindsay Lohan's father and was turned over to the FBI.

JetBlue Airways Corp. spokeswoman Sharon Jones says Wednesday's Flight 101 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Los Angeles was diverted to New Orleans to remove an "unruly customer" who was not identified. She referred further questions to law enforcement.

FBI spokesman Craig Betzebe did not immediately respond to an email requesting information.

Major-Lohan's phone number was not immediately available. It was not clear whether she had an attorney.

Shooting suspect a recluse

A gunman who police say staged a deadly attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic was a recluse who stashed food in the woods, avoided eye contact, warned neighbours about government spying and passed out anti-Obama pamphlets, those who knew him said.

Authorities say Robert Lewis Dear, 57, killed three people, including a police officer, during an hours-long standoff before surrendering at the Colorado Springs clinic. Police have not disclosed a motive, but the city's mayor, John Suthers, said people can make "inferences from where it took place," referring to the clinic.

The facility provides women's health services, including abortions, and has long been the site of regular anti-abortion protests. A Roman Catholic priest who has held weekly Mass in front of the clinic for 20 years said Dear wasn't part of his group.

"I don't know him from Adam," said Rev. Bill Carmody. "I don't recognize him at all."

The attack thrust the clinic to the centre of the ongoing debate over Planned Parenthood. It was re-ignited in July when anti-abortion activists released undercover video they said showed the organization's personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs.

Planned Parenthood has denied seeking any payments beyond legally permitted reimbursement costs for donating the organs to researchers. Still, the National Abortion Federation, an association of service providers, says it has seen a rise in threats at clinics nationwide since the video's release.

At a vigil Saturday at All Souls Unitarian Church, Rev. Nori Rost called the gunman a "domestic terrorist." In the back of the room, someone held a sign that said: "Women's bodies are not battlefields. Neither is our town."

Vicki Cowart, the regional head of Planned Parenthood, drew a standing ovation when she walked to the pulpit. She promised to quickly reopen the clinic. "We will adapt. We will square our shoulders and we will go on," she said.

After her remarks, a woman in the audience stood up, objected to the vigil becoming a "political statement" and left.

Cowart said the gunman "broke in" to the clinic Friday but didn't get past a locked door leading to the main part of the facility. She said there was no armed security when the shooting began.

In the parking lot of the two-story building, one man said the gunman shot at him as he pulled his car out, blasting two holes in his windshield. Inside, one worker ducked under a table and called her brother to tell him to take care of her kids if she was killed.

At one point, an officer whispered reports into his radio as he crept through the building. Others relayed information from surveillance cameras and victims in hiding. "We've got a report of a victim texting from just east of the lobby," someone said.

In the end, a six-year veteran University of Colorado police officer was killed. Two civilians also died, though their identities weren't immediately released. Five other officers and four people were hospitalized.

Cowart said all 15 clinic employees survived and worked hard to make sure everyone else got into safe spaces and stayed quiet.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the city is mourning and praised the bravery of first responders. He said the nation is wrestling with the causes of violence but that it's too early to discuss that while the city is reeling.

"This is the kind of thing that hits the entire community in the gut," he said.

Cowart said the organization would learn from the attack. When asked if the clinic should have more security, she said the clinic's clients shouldn't have to walk through metal detectors.

The attack marked the latest mass shooting to stun the nation, and drew the now-familiar questions about a gunman's motives and whether anyone, from government to relatives, could have done anything to prevent an attack.

Those who knew Dear said he seemed to have few religious or political leanings.

Neighbours who lived beside Dear's former South Carolina home say he hid food in the woods as if he was a survivalist and said he lived off selling prints of his uncle's paintings of Southern plantations and the Masters golf tournament.

John Hood said Saturday that when he moved to Walterboro, Dear was living in a doublewide mobile home next door. Hood said Dear seemed to be a loner and very strange but not dangerous. He pointed to a wooden fence separating their land and said he put it up because Dear liked to skinny dip.

Hood said that Dear rarely talked to them, and when he did, he tended to offer unsolicited advice such as recommending that Hood put a metal roof on his house so the U.S. government couldn't spy on him.

"He was really strange and out there, but I never thought he would do any harm," he said.

Dear also lived part of the time in a cabin with no electricity or running water in Black Mountain, North Carolina. He kept mostly to himself, his neighbours said. When he did talk, it was a rambling combination of a number of topics that didn't make sense.

He tended to avoid eye contact, said James Russell, who lived a few hundred feet down the mountain from Dear's cabin. "If you talked to him, nothing with him was very cognitive," Russell said.

Other neighbours knew Dear too, but they didn't want to give their names because they said they were scared of him.

Russell and others said the only companion they saw with him was a mangy dog that looked to be in such bad shape they called animal control because they worried he was beating it.

In the small town of Hartsel, Colorado, about 60 miles west of Colorado Springs, about a dozen police vehicles and fire trucks were parked outside a small white trailer belonging to Dear located on a sprawling swath of land. Property records indicate Dear purchased the land about a year ago.

A law enforcement official said authorities searched the trailer Saturday but found no explosives. The official, who has direct knowledge of the case, said authorities also talked with a woman who was living in the trailer. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

Zigmond Post, who lives near the RV where Dear lived, said he didn't have many interactions with Dear but he said the suspect once gave him a pamphlet opposing President Barack Obama.

"He didn't talk about them or anything. He just said 'Look them over when you get a chance,'" Post said.

Jamie Heffelman, owner of the Highline Cafe in Hartsel, said residents would occasionally see the 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound Dear at the post office to get his mail but he never said much.

"Nobody really knows him. He stays to himself," she said.



New secrets in Tut's tomb?

Egypt on Saturday said there is a 90 per cent chance that hidden chambers will be found within King Tutankhamun's tomb, based on the preliminary results of a new exploration of the 3,300-year-old mausoleum.

Researchers say the discovery of a new chamber could shine new light on one of ancient Egypt's most turbulent times, and one prominent researcher has theorized that the remains of Queen Nefertiti might be inside.

Egypt began the search for the hidden chamber last week. Announcing the results of three days of testing in the southern city of Luxor, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said the findings will be sent to Japan for a monthlong analysis before the search is resumed.

Luxor, in southern Egypt, served as the pharaonic capital in ancient times, and is home to sprawling temples and several ancient tombs.

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves theorizes that Tutankhamun, better known as King Tut, who died at the age of 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti's tomb. Famed for her beauty, Nefertiti was the subject of a famous 3,300-year-old bust.

Reeves reached his theory after high-resolution images discovered what he said were straight lines in King Tut's tomb. These lines, previously hidden by colour and the stones' texture, indicate the presence of a sealed chamber, he said. The images were later broadcast live on national television last September.

Nefertiti was the primary wife of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who unsuccessfully attempted to switch Egypt to an early form of monotheism. Akhenaten was succeeded by a pharaoh referred to as Smenkhare and then Tut, who is widely believed to have been Akhenaten's son.

Tut, Nefertiti, and Akhenaten's family ruled Egypt during one of its most turbulent times, which ended with a military takeover by Egypt's top general at the time, Horemheb. The whole family's names were wiped out from official records later on.

Reeves believes that Smenkhare is actually Nefertiti.

This is the second find to be announced this week. On Tuesday, el-Damaty said the Austrian Archaeological Institute discovered a "giant fence" dating back over 3,500 years at the site of another ancient capital city, Avaris. The sandstone fence is least 500 metres long and seven metres thick, antiquities official Mahmoud Afifi said.

Gunman in custody

Update: 9:40 p.m.

A law enforcement official says the gunman in an attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs has been identified as Robert Lewis Dear.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the case, said the shooter is from North Carolina. No other details were immediately available. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.

Police said three people, including a police officer, were killed in the attack on Friday. The gunman was taken into custody after an hourslong standoff and shootout.

Authorities say they haven't determined a motive or whether the shooter had any connection to Planned Parenthood.

The mayor of Colorado Springs says a gunman in a shooting attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic is in custody.

Mayor John Suthers says he did not have any further details.

A shootout and standoff between the gunman and officers had been going on for hours Friday at the clinic.

Police say 11 people, including five officers, have been transported to area hospitals.

Authorities do not have any further details on those wounded or whether there had been any fatalities in the attack.

Officer dies following attack

A law enforcement official says one police officer has been killed in the shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

The official says the officer was with the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the case, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing and the official was not authorized to speak to the media.

Four other officers and six civilians were taken to hospitals.

Police say the gunman is in custody.

Betsy and Ben a hit at zoo

Two baby red pandas at the Philadelphia Zoo have been named after two of the city's most famous residents: Betsy and Benjamin.

Zoo officials said Friday that the monikers received overwhelming support in a public naming contest. The names pay homage to American revolutionary figures Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin.

Officials say the cubs' birth on June 26 was important for red panda conservation, since the species is considered vulnerable in the wild. The brother and sister made their public debut Nov. 18.

Unlike giant pandas, red pandas are not members of the bear family. They are slightly larger than domestic cats and look similar to raccoons. They are native to Asia.

Search on for clinic shooter

The latest on the shooting near Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. (All times local)

2:25 p.m.

Police say they are encountering gunfire as they search for a gunman at a shooting scene near a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

Police previously said the gunman had been contained Friday but later said they were still searching for the person.

Police say at least three officers have been injured but it's not known if anyone else has been wounded.

There are at least eight ambulances waiting at an intersection near the clinic and a nearby shopping centre.


1:50 p.m.

Police say they are unsure about the location of a shooter in an attack near a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three officers injured.

A witness says she heard as many as 20 shots in less than five minutes and saw an officer fall to the ground Friday during the shooting.

Denise Speller, manager of a nearby haircut salon, told The Gazette of Colorado Springs that she saw another officer kneel down to render aid to the officer who fell.

Commander Kirk Wilson told KKTV that two of the injured officers were evacuated and authorities were still trying to reach the third. He couldn't immediately say how the officers were doing.


1:10 p.m.

Police in Colorado Springs say three officers have been injured in a shooting near a Planned Parenthood clinic and the gunman has been contained

Commander Kirk Wilson told KKTV that two of the officers were evacuated Friday and authorities are still trying to reach the third.

He couldn't immediately say how the officers were doing or how the gunman was contained.


12:40 p.m.

Ambulances and police vehicles were lined up near an intersection near a Planned Parenthood clinic and Colorado Springs police told people via Twitter to stay away from the "active shooter scene" because it was not secure.

Police said on Twitter that people inside a nearby shopping centre were told Friday to shelter in place.

No further details were available on the incident.


12:10 p.m.

Police in Colorado Springs are responding to a report of an active shooter at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Police Lt. Catherine Buckley said officers were deployed Friday and the situation has not been stabilized. She didn't immediately have any other details.

Suicide bombing kills 21

A suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated himself in the middle of a procession of hundreds of Shiite Muslims on Friday, killing 21 people and injuring dozens, local religious leaders said.

The attack occurred during the annual Arbaeen procession from Nigeria's second-largest city, Kano, to the ancient Islamic city of Zaria, said Aliyu Yusuf Kakaki, a spokesman for the Shiite community in Kano.

The leader of Shiites in Kano, Sheikh Muhammadu Mahmud Turi, told reporters on Friday that 21 members of the sect lost their lives in the blast. Earlier, Kakaki said at least 15 had been killed and 40 injured.

A second suicide bomber was detained before he could blow himself up and was being interrogated, Kakaki added.

Police commissioner Muhammadu Katsina confirmed there had been a suicide bombing and said he had visited the scene but could not give a death toll.

Centred in northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram is a radical Sunni Muslim group that wants to create an Islamic caliphate and impose its version of strict Sharia law and is hostile to those following the Shiite branch of the religion.

Its 6-year-old uprising has killed 20,000 people and driven 2.3 million from their homes, according to Amnesty International. Kano has suffered multiple attacks that have killed hundreds during the uprising.

This year Boko Haram has expanded attacks into Cameroon, Chad and Niger — all countries contributing troops to a regional force intended to wipe out the extremists.

But on Thursday, a Nigerian government spokesman said it would not be possible to eliminate Boko Haram by December — a deadline previously announced by President Muhammadu Buhari — and said Nigerians should expect suicide bombings to continue.

Russia slaps visas on Turkey

Russia announced Friday that it will suspend visa-free travel with Turkey amid the escalating spat over the downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish fighter jet at the Syrian border.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that Moscow will halt the existing visa-free regime starting Jan. 1, saying that Turkey has become a conduit for terrorists and has been reluctant to share information with Moscow about Russian citizens accused of involvement in terrorist activities.

Turkey's downing of the Russian military jet Tuesday, the first time in half a century that a NATO member shot down a Russian plane, has drawn a harsh response from Moscow. Russia has since restricted tourist travel, left Turkish trucks stranded at the border, confiscated large quantities of Turkish food imports and started preparing a raft of broader economic sanctions.

President Vladimir Putin has also ordered the deployment of the long-range S-400 air defence missile systems to a Russian air base in Syria 50 kilometres south of the border with Turkey to help protect Russian warplanes, and the Russian military warned it would shoot down any aerial target that would pose a potential threat to its planes. The military also moved the missile cruiser Moskva closer to the shore to help cover Russian bombers om combat missions.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to apologize for the plane's downing, which Ankara said came after it flew for 17 seconds into Turkish airspace. At the same timed, Erdogan said he has tried in vain to speak by phone to Putin to discuss the situation and expressed hope they could meet at the sidelines of a climate summit in Paris next Monday.

Putin's foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said Friday that the Kremlin had received Erdogan's request for a meeting, but wouldn't say whether such a meeting is possible.

Asked why Putin hasn't picked up the phone to respond to Erdogan's two phone calls, he said that "we have seen that the Turkish side hasn't been ready to offer an elementary apology over the plane incident."

The tug-of-war between the two countries has been driven by a clash of their leaders' personal ambitions.

Putin and Erdogan have been frequently compared to each other. Both are populist leaders who frequently crack down on critics and often revert to anti-Western rhetoric. They had enjoyed close relations until recently, despite differences over Syria, and regularly exchanged visits. In September, Erdogan travelled to Moscow where he and Putin attended the opening of a new mosque, and they also met separately on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit hosted by Turkey.

The summit in Antalya marked their deepening rift over Syria, when Putin showed fellow G-20 leaders aerial pictures of what he said were convoys of oil trucks carrying crude from fields controlled by the Islamic State group into Turkey.

Putin's move came as Russia, the United State and France all have focused their air strikes on the IS oil infrastructure, seeking to undermine the group's financial base following the terror attacks in Paris and the downing of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt.

Erdogan angrily dismissed the Russian accusations, but Putin retorted Thursday that it was hard to believe that the Turkish leadership didn't know about the illegal oil trade.

"We have no doubt whatsoever that this oil goes to Turkey, we are seeing it from the air," Putin said. "If Turkey's political leadership doesn't know anything about it, they should know now."

Lavrov said Friday that Russia strongly backs France's proposal to shut down the Turkish-Syrian border as a way to fight Islamic State fighters in Syria.

'Continent of hope'

Pope Francis arrived in Uganda on Friday on the second leg of his Africa pilgrimage, declaring Africa the "continent of hope" and honouring Uganda's most famous Christians.

Francis arrived at Entebbe International Airport, where Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, flanked by a military brass band and traditional drummers and dancers welcomed him.

Francis, who arrived from Kenya and also is scheduled to visit Central African Republic, is in Uganda mainly to honour the memory of a group of Ugandan Christians who were killed in the late 19th century on the orders of a local king eager to thwart the growing influence of Christianity.

Those victims, known as the Uganda Martyrs, include 45 Anglicans and Catholics killed between 1885 and 1887. Pope Paul VI canonized the 22 Ugandan Catholics in 1964.

"They remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, and continue to play, in the cultural, economic and political life of this country," Francis told Museveni and other Ugandan authorities and diplomats at a welcome ceremony at the state house.

In an unusual break with papal trip protocol, Museveni didn't offer welcoming remarks.

Later Friday, Francis arrived at a shrine honouring the martyrs in Munyonyo, where they were condemned to death.

Francis arrived in Kampala after a busy final day in Kenya that was highlighted by his visit to one of the capital's 11 slums and a spontaneous, off-the-cuff monologue to thousands of Kenyan youths about preventing young people from falling prey to corruption and radicalization to go fight with extremist groups.

In the Kangemi shanty, Francis denounced conditions slum-dwellers are forced to live in, saying access to safe water is a basic human right and that everyone should have dignified, adequate housing, access to sanitation, schools and hospitals.

"To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need," he said.

Residents lined the mud streets to welcome Francis, standing alongside goats and hens outside the corrugated tin-roofed shacks where many of the shantytown's small businesses operate: beauty parlours, cellphone "top-up" shops and storefront evangelical churches.

Those lucky enough to score a spot at St. Joseph's parish erupted in cheers and hymns when Francis arrived, ululating and waving paper flags printed with his photo and the "Kariba Kenya" welcome that has been ubiquitous on the pope's first-ever visit to Africa.

Francis, known as the "slum pope" for his ministry in Buenos Aires' shantytowns, has frequently insisted on the need for the three "Ls" — land, labour and lodging. On Friday he focused on lodging as a critical issue facing the world amid rapid urbanization that is helping to upset Earth's delicate ecological balance.

Kangemi is one of 11 slums dotting Nairobi, East Africa's largest city, and is home to about 50,000 people. The U.N. Habitat program says some 60 per cent of Nairobi's population lives on just 6 per cent of the city's residential land in these unofficial settlements lacking basic sanitation or regular running water.

Francis denounced the practice of private corporations grabbing land illegally, depriving schools of their playgrounds and forcing the poor into ever more tightly packed slums, where violence and addiction are rampant.

In January, police tear-gassed schoolchildren demonstrating against the removal of their school's playground, which has been allegedly grabbed by powerful people. After an outcry, the Kenyan government declared the playground the property of the school.

"These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries," Francis said.

He called for a "respectful urban integration" with concrete initiatives to provide good quality housing for all.

His message was welcomed by residents of Kangemi, who said the city only pipes in water three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday, but it's not safe to drink. Garbage collection goes to only those who can pay for it.

"Some people don't have toilets in their homes," said Emily Night, a mother of two who works at the St. Joseph's HIV counselling program. "Those that do, maybe 50 people are using it!"

Francis raised the issue of environmental deterioration in cities in his encyclical "Praise Be," saying many megacities today have simply become health threats, "not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions but also as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, and visual pollution and noise."

After the visit to Kangemi, Francis received a rock-star welcome at Kasarani stadium, where he zoomed around the track in his open-sided popemobile to the delight of thousands of young Kenyans in the crowd. The stadium was so packed with the faithful that many more stood outside, unable to enter.

Sandra losing steam

Hurricane Sandra is rapidly losing strength as it approaches Mexico's Pacific coast.

The hurricane's maximum sustained winds decreased early Friday to near 160 km/h, making it a Category 2 storm. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Sandra is forecast to continue weakening and become a remnant low Saturday.

Sandra is centred about 295 kilometres southwest of Las Islas Marias, Mexico, and is moving north-northeast near 19 km/h.

A tropical storm warning has been issued Las Islas Marias and for the area from Altata to San Blas.

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