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13 dead, 100 injured

UPDATE: 4:25 p.m.

Thursday van attack in Barcelona has injured 100 people, authorities say.

Victims were left sprawled in the street, spattered with blood or crippled by broken limbs. Others fled in panic, screaming or carrying young children in their arms.

"It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible," Josep Lluis Trapero, senior police official, told a news conference late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State" in response to the extremist group's calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of police brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

Several hours later authorities reported two arrests, one a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan.

But Trapero said neither of them was the van's driver. The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, the site of a gas explosion at a house on Wednesday night. Police said they were investigating a possible link to Thursday's attack.


UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.

A white van jumped up onto a sidewalk and sped down a pedestrian zone Thursday in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district, swerving from side to side as it plowed into tourists and residents. Police said 13 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in what they called a terror attack.

The afternoon attack left victims sprawled out in the street, spattered with blood or crippled by broken limbs. Others fled in panic, screaming or carrying young children in their arms. As witnesses and emergency workers tried to help the wounded, police brandishing hand guns launched a search of side streets looking for suspects.

Police immediately cordoned off the city's broad avenue and ordered stores and nearby Metro and train stations to close. They asked people to stay away from the area so as not to get in the way of emergency services. A helicopter hovered over the scene.

A few hours later, Catalan police tweeted: "We have arrested one man and we are treating him as a terrorist." They said no suspects were holed up in a Barcelona bar, as local media had reported, and began to evacuate stores on the sprawling avenue where scores of people had taken cover.

State-owned broadcaster RTVE reported that investigators think two vans were used — one for the attack and a second as a getaway vehicle.


UPDATE: 11:40 a.m.

A regional government official in Spain says 13 people have been killed in the van attack at a historic shopping and tourist area of Barcelona.

Catalan Interior Minister official Joaquim Forn also said on Twitter that more than 50 people were injured during Thursday's attack.

Regional police now are evacuating stores and bars in the Las Ramblas district amid a manhunt after the attack.

The move came right after police announced they had arrested one suspect and were "treating him as a terrorist."


ORIGINAL: 9:45 a.m.

A white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district, killing and injuring several people as it plowed into a summer crowd of tourists and residents, police said. The El Pais newspaper said police were treating the crash as a terror attack.

Police cordoned off the broad, popular street, ordering stores and nearby Metro and train stations to close. They asked people to stay away from the area so as not to get in the way of emergency services. A helicopter hovered over the scene.

Quoting unnamed police sources, El Pais said the two perpetrators of the crash were holed up in a bar in Tallers Street. There was no immediate police confirmation of the report.

Catalan police tweeted that "there are mortal victims and injured from the crash" without specifying numbers. The Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper reported at least one dead and 20 injured from the van.

In a photograph on public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Other videos showed five people down and recorded people screaming as they fled the scene.

Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the centre of Barcelona, is one of the city's top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrian path in the centre of the street but cars can travel on either side.

Keith Fleming, an American who lives in Barcelona, was watching TV in his building just off Las Ramblas when he heard a noise and went out to his balcony.

"I saw women and children just running and they looked terrified," he said.

He said police are there with their guns drawn and riot police are at the end of his block. He said his street is now deserted.



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Trump, more than ever

President Donald Trump's most ardent champions are sticking by him, happy to absolve him of any wrong in the blame game over the deadly weekend violence at a rally of white supremacists.

Some Republican members of Congress have criticized Trump's back and forth response since a car slammed into a crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring 19 other people. Trump's insistence that "both sides" bear responsibility for the violence has sparked anger among many Americans.

The president's statements have also given some supporters pause. But many of the people who helped elect Trump seem unfazed by the outcry over his statements concerning the protest and counter protest over removing a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Trump on Thursday bemoaned growing efforts to topple monuments to Confederate war heroes, saying that the United States is watching "the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart."

The enthusiasm of many of the president's core supporters has been noted in the past. Trump himself boasted during the campaign last year he "could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

Such unflagging support remains despite polls that show his approval rates dipping overall.

In Sun City, Arizona, a retirement community and Trump stronghold north of Phoenix, 80-year-old John Libby said nothing the president has done since Election Day has changed his support for the man.

"I would vote for him again in a heartbeat," Libby said.

Patricia Aleeyah Robinson, a retired truck driver from Toledo, Ohio, said her support of Trump has cost her friendships and strained family relationships.

But like many of the president's most passionate supporters, the 63-year-old black woman said her opinions about Trump have not changed since his response to the violence at the Charlottesville rally.

"He has done nothing to turn me away from him," said Robinson. She said he doesn't defer to racists and feels he is the only president who has ever spoken directly to blacks.



Burqa stunt in Parliament

An Australian senator provoked an angry backlash from lawmakers by wearing a burqa in Parliament on Thursday as part of her campaign for a national ban on Islamic face covers.

Pauline Hanson, leader of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigration One Nation minor party, sat wearing the black head-to-ankle garment for more than 10 minutes before taking it off as she rose to explain that she wanted such outfits banned on national security grounds.

"There has been a large majority of Australians (who) wish to see the banning of the burqa," said Hanson, an outspoken fan of President Donald Trump, as senators objected.

Attorney-General George Brandis drew applause when he said his government would not ban the burqa, and chastised Hanson for what he described as a "stunt" that offended Australia's Muslim minority.

"To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done," Brandis said.

Opposition Senate leader Penny Wong told Hanson: "It is one thing to wear religious dress as a sincere act of faith; it is another to wear it as a stunt here in the Senate."

Sam Dastyari, an opposition senator and an Iranian-born Muslim, said: "We have seen the stunt of all stunts in this chamber by Sen. Hanson."

"The close to 500,000 Muslim Australians do not deserve to be targeted, do not deserve to be marginalized, do not deserve to be ridiculed, do not deserve to have their faith made some political point by the desperate leader of a desperate political party," Dastyari said.



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Sphere returns to WTC

A 25-ton, bronze sphere damaged by the collapsing World Trade Center is finally being returned to a spot overlooking the rebuilt site.

Workers on Wednesday began hoisting sections of the Koenig Sphere into its permanent home at the new Liberty Park overlooking the 9/11 memorial.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last year approved plans to move the sculpture from its temporary place in Battery Park at Manhattan's southern tip.

The sphere once stood between the trade centre's two towers.

The late German artist Fritz Koenig created the work commissioned by the Port Authority, which lost 84 employees. It was dedicated in Battery Park in 2002, with an eternal flame honouring the more than 2,700 people who died at the trade centre a year earlier.



Military helicopter crashes

A multi-agency team scoured the ocean off Hawaii for five soldiers aboard an Army helicopter that went down during a nighttime training exercise.

The UH-60 Black Hawk went missing when another Army helicopter training with it lost visual and radio contact about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Lt. Col. Curtis Kellogg, a spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division.

Two pilots and three crew members were on board, he said. The Army has notified the soldiers' families, Kellogg said.

"As we do this work, the soldiers and their families are in the forefront of our minds. That's what we're doing this for," Kellogg said.

Honolulu Fire Department search and rescue crews found and collected pieces of helicopter fuselage and a helmet in a debris field about three kilometres off Kaena Point on Oahu. Photos showed Army soldiers unloading suspected debris from the firefighters' boat and personal watercraft at the harbour in the nearby town of Haleiwa.

Officials closed the state park at Kaena Point while the search was underway.

A Coast Guard plane, two helicopters and several boats were being used in the search. The Army and Marine Corps joined the effort, as did Honolulu firefighters and lifeguards.

Two Black Hawk crews were conducting training between Kaena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost, officials said. Clouds and a few showers were in the area at the time.



SeaWorld orca euthanized

SeaWorld euthanized one of the entertainment company's last killer whales to come from the wild, marking the third orca death this year at one of its marine parks.

Kasatka died Tuesday evening "surrounded by members of her pod, as well as the veterinarians and caretakers who loved her," after battling lung disease for years, the company said in a statement. Veterinarians at its San Diego park made the difficult decision to euthanize her after her health started to decline in recent days despite treatment, which included a custom-built inhaler that allowed the medicine to go directly to her lungs.

She was estimated to be 42 years old — SeaWorld's second-oldest orca after Corky, which is believed to be 53. Female orcas typically live about 50 years, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration figures.

Kristi Burtis, an orca behaviourist, spent years working with Kasatka.

"Although I am heartbroken, I am grateful for the special time we had together and for the difference she has made for wild orcas by all that we have learned from her," Burtis said in a statement. "I adored Kasatka and loved sharing her with millions of people. I will miss her very much."

SeaWorld has not collected a wild orca in nearly 40 years, and most of its orcas were born in captivity. Kasatka was captured near Iceland in 1978.



Trump: history ripped apart

President Donald Trump bitingly decried the rising movement to pull down monuments to Confederate icons Thursday, declaring the nation is seeing "the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart."

Trump's new remarks came even as the White house tried to manage his increasing isolation and the continued fallout from his combative comments on last weekend's racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He also tore into fellow Republicans who have criticized his statements on race and politics, fanning the controversy toward a full-fledged national conflagration.

Pressured by advisers, the president had taken a step back from the dispute on Monday, two days after he had enraged many by declining to single out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis whose demonstration against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statute had led to violence and the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville.

He returned to his combative stance on Wednesday — insisting anew that "both sides" were to blame. And then in a burst of tweets on Thursday he renewed his criticism of efforts to remove memorials and tributes to the Civil War Confederacy.

"You can't change history, but you can learn from it," he tweeted. "Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish. ...

"Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!"



Falls to death from crane

A suspected car thief led police on a chase across Los Angeles before he ditched the vehicle and climbed to the top of a loading crane at the city's port, dangling over edges and stripping naked before falling to his death.

The man fell about 160 feet to the ground and died about three hours after he first scaled the crane Wednesday night. It's not clear whether he slipped or jumped deliberately, Los Angeles fire officials said.

Police in Los Angeles spotted the car reported stolen from a dealership in San Bernardino, and an hours-long chase ensued, the LAPD said.

Several television stations broadcast the chase live, showing the SUV swerving at high speed through freeway traffic in L.A. and Long Beach, sometimes crossing into oncoming lanes.

He drove into the vast complex of the Port of Los Angeles and drove into a terminal, circling back and forth under giant loading cranes and next to a docked ship before jumping out of the still-moving SUV and racing up the stairs of the crane. He broke a window and climbed into the crane cab, then climbed out, walked to the end of the crane over water as darkness fell.

As news helicopters hovered above, he shed his Lakers jersey and shoes, then later took off the rest of his clothes. He dangled and nearly fell several times before eventually plunging to the ground.



Arrest in French car attack

French authorities have detained a man linked to an Algerian driver who sped his car into a group of soldiers near Paris. It is the first arrest in the case.

A judicial official said Thursday the man was arrested Wednesday and will be questioned by counterterrorism investigators.

Police have been unable to question the chief suspect, Hamou Benlatreche, because he remains hospitalized with serious injuries sustained during his arrest, according to the official. The official was not authorized to be publicly named while speaking about an ongoing investigation.

Police have not disclosed a motive for the Aug. 9 attack that injured six soldiers in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.

Police say Benlatreche, 37, was known to authorities as a suspect in minor crimes but not as someone with radical beliefs.



600 migrants rescued

Spain's maritime rescue service has saved more than 600 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Morocco in the past 24 hours, making it one of its busiest days so far this year.

The service said it rescued 16 migrants early Thursday in the Strait of Gibraltar, a narrow passage that separates Spain from Morocco. On Wednesday, its vessels rescued 601 migrants, including two in a canoe and six in a beach paddle boat.

The service said of the 601, 432 migrants were rescued in the Strait and 169 further east in the Mediterranean. Some 550 of the migrants were from Maghreb countries of northwest Africa and the rest from sub-Saharan African countries.

More than 9,000 migrants have reached Spain by sea so far this year, more than the total for all of 2016.

The International Organization for Migration said one reason for the increase could be that the Mediterranean Sea crossing from Libya to Italy is seen as increasingly dangerous, due to lawlessness in Libya and stepped-up patrols by the Libyan coast guard. More migrants also reach Spain during good summer weather.



Putin trusted over Trump

Vladimir Putin is more trusted than Donald Trump to do the right thing for the world among citizens of numerous U.S. allies, including Japan, South Korea and seven European NATO members, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Both leaders scored poorly overall in the poll by the respected Pew Research Center. But Trump's scores in particular point to a stunningly high level of international public distrust in the American president, a position colloquially described as "leader of the free world" as many smaller countries rely on the United States for support and defence.

The United States is obligated to defend all NATO countries under the alliance's treaty, which was initially aimed at the Soviet Union. The U.S. is also obliged to defend Japan and South Korea, which are threatened by North Korea, under separate defence treaties.

In Greece, Germany, Turkey, Hungary, France, Italy and Spain, more people had confidence in the Russian president than in his U.S. counterpart "to do the right thing regarding world affairs," according to the poll.

That Trump is so distrusted by the populations of countries historically reliant on the United States for their defence points to the strains with U.S. allies caused by his often erratic international pronouncements. These have included questioning the validity and effectiveness of NATO, delaying affirmation of the alliance's mutual defence pact, musing about more countries having nuclear weapons and, most recently, threatening "fire and fury" against North Korea if it persists in threatening the United States.

Trump scored higher than Putin in Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Poland, according to the survey, which Pew said was conducted in 37 countries earlier this year. Trump also led among non-NATO U.S. allies Australia and the Philippines, as well as in Israel, where he was far more trusted than Putin.

"Although confidence in Putin's handling of foreign affairs is generally low, in many countries he is more trusted than American President Donald Trump," the survey found.

Globally, 60 per cent of respondents said they lack confidence in Putin, with European nations most skeptical.



Llama on the links

Maybe these golfers in New Hampshire didn't yell "fore" but they might have considered "llama on the links."

Golfers at Eagle Mountain Golf Course in Jackson were joined Monday on the sixth fairway by a llama that escaped from his pen about 2 miles (over 3 kilometres) through some woods.

The Conway Daily Sun reports that the pack animal, named Noir, was friendly and got in pictures with the golfers.

The fugitive is well known to local police. Officers escorted him home in June when he escaped from his electric fence enclosure. And this time, Jackson Police Chief Chris Perley again returned him to his pen with help from his owner, Russ Miller.

Miller admits the electric fence needs to be a little higher.



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