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Iran ready for 'any scenario'

Iran's Revolutionary Guard is ready for combat and "any scenario," its chief commander said Saturday, as the country's nuclear deal with world powers collapses and the U.S. alleged Iran was behind a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that shook global energy markets.

Iran has denied involvement in the Sept. 14 attack that was initially claimed by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in New York for the U.N. meetings, has warned that any retaliatory strike on Iran by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in "an all-out war."

On Saturday, Gen. Hossein Salami, at a ceremony displaying pieces of an American drone Iran shot down in June, said that his forces have carried out "war exercises and are ready for any scenario."

He added: "If anyone crosses our borders, we will hit them."

Zarif claimed in a tweet that Saudi Arabia does not believe its own allegations that Iran was responsible for the attack on Saudi oil sites.

"It is clear that even the Saudis themselves don't believe the fiction of Iranian involvement", Zarif said, pointing to what he described as a Saudi retaliatory attack on Houthi forces in southwestern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthi rebels since March 2015. The U.N., Gulf Arab nations and the U.S. accuse Iran of supplying arms to the Houthis, something Tehran denies.

Analysts say the missiles used in the Sept. 14 assault wouldn't have enough range to reach the oil sites in eastern Saudi Arabia from impoverished Yemen. The missiles and drones used resembled Iranian-made weapons, although analysts say more study is needed to definitively link them to Iran.

Salami added that Iran does not want to start a conflict, but appeared to warn the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that Iran is prepared.

"We won't stop until the destruction of any aggressor. And we will not leave any secure spot," he said. "Do not miscalculate and do not make a mistake."

President Donald Trump signalled on Friday that he was not inclined to authorize an immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attacks on the Saudi oil industry, saying he believes showing restraint "shows far more strength" and he wants to avoid an all-out war.

The Pentagon said the U.S. will deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to beef up security.

Trump, who withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal more than a year ago, said separately Friday that America "just sanctioned the Iranian national bank." He did not elaborate.

The U.S. Treasury Department said it took action against the Central Bank of Iran.

Iran's central bank chief, Abdolnasser Hemmati, sought to shrug off the new sanctions on Saturday. According to the state-run IRNA news agency, Hemmati said re-imposing sanctions on Iran's central bank shows the U.S. has little leverage left.



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23 states sue Trump

California sued Friday to stop the Trump administration from revoking its authority to set greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, enlisting help from 22 other states in a battle that will shape a key component of the nation's climate policy.

Federal law sets standards for how much pollution can come from cars and trucks. But since the 1970s, California has been permitted to set tougher rules because it has the most cars and struggles to meet air quality standards. On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withdrew California's waiver.

The NHTSA action does not take effect for 60 days, but state leaders did not wait to file a lawsuit. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has clashed with President Donald Trump on several fronts, vowed the state "will hold the line in court to defend our children's health, save consumers money at the pump and protect our environment."

The Trump administration's decision does not just affect California. Thirteen other states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted California's standards.

A spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to comment on the lawsuit. But Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the rules "were making cars more expensive and impeding safety because consumers were being priced out of newer, safer vehicles."

"We will not let political agendas in a single state be forced upon the other 49," Chao said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its authority to set nationwide fuel economy standards pre-empts state and local programs.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra cited a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that rejected the NHTSA's argument that greenhouse gas emission standards under the Clean Air Act interfered with its ability to set fuel economy standards.

"The Oval Office is really not a place for on-the-job training. President Trump should have at least read the instruction manual he inherited when he assumed the Presidency, in particular the chapter on respecting the Rule of Law," Becerra said in a statement.

Federal regulators said the regulation would not impact California's programs to address "harmful smog-forming vehicle emissions."

Joining California in the lawsuit are attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

The cities of New York and Los Angeles and the District of Columbia also joined the lawsuit.

The lawsuit highlighted a day of climate-related action by California leaders, which included an executive order from Newsom directing state transportation officials to consider climate goals in their planning and direct money where possible to programs that will reduce reliance on cars.



Crowd 'storms' Area 51

About 75 people arrived early Friday at a gate at the once-secret Area 51 military base in Nevada – at the time appointed by an internet hoaxster to "storm" the facility to see space aliens – and at least two were detained by sheriff's deputies.

The "Storm Area 51" invitation spawned festivals in the tiny Nevada towns of Rachel and Hiko nearest the military site.

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee estimated late Thursday that about 1,500 people had gathered at the festival sites and said more than 150 people also made the rugged trip several additional miles on bone-rattling dirt roads to get within selfie distance of the gates.

An Associated Press photographer said it wasn't immediately clear if a woman who began ducking under a gate and a man who urinated nearby were arrested after the crowd gathered about 3 a.m. Friday.

Millions of people had responded to a June internet post calling for people to run into the remote U.S. Air Force test site that has long been the focus of UFO conspiracy theories.

"They can't stop all of us," the post joked. "Lets see them aliens."

The military responded with stern warnings that lethal force could be used if people entered the Nevada Test and Training Range, and local and state officials said arrests would be made if people tried.

"It's public land," the sheriff said. "They're allowed to go to the gate, as long as they don't cross the boundary."

Michael Ian Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociologist who researches pop culture and paranormal activity, called the festivities sparked by the internet joke "a perfect blend of interest in aliens and the supernatural, government conspiracies, and the desire to know what we don't know."

"People desire to be part of something, to be ahead of the curve," Borer said. "Area 51 is a place where normal, ordinary citizens can't go. When you tell people they can't do something, they just want to do it more."

Eric Holt, the Lincoln County emergency manager, said he believed authorities could handle 30,000 visitors at the two events. Still, neighbours braced for trouble after millions of people responded to the "Storm Area 51" Facebook post weeks ago.

The Federal Aviation Administration closed nearby airspace.



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de Blasio drops bid

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Friday after struggling to gain traction in a sprawling field of candidates.

Announcing his decision in an MSNBC interview, de Blasio did not throw his support behind any candidate but said he would support the eventual Democratic nominee "with energy."

"I feel like I've contributed all I can to this primary election, and it's clearly not my time," de Blasio told the hosts of "Morning Joe." ''So I'm going to end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City, and I'm going to keep speaking up for working people and for a Democratic Party that stands for working people."

President Donald Trump, no fan of de Blasio, tweeted : "Oh no, really big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years! Part time Mayor of New York City, @BilldeBlasio, who was polling at a solid ZERO but had tremendous room for growth, has shocking dropped out of the Presidential race. NYC is devastated, he's coming home!"

Trump added later that the 6-foot-5 mayor "only had one real asset. You know what it was? Height. Other than that, he had nothing going. "

De Blasio joins New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Sen. Jay Inslee, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and California Rep. Eric Swallwell, who have all left the Democratic primary race.

The 58-year-old mayor launched his bid in May but his campaign largely failed to take off. He never achieved higher than 1% in a national poll and was ridiculed in the media, most recently in a Washington Post story headlined "Bill de Blasio's presidential campaign has burned down, fallen over and sunk into a swamp."

He qualified for the first two rounds of debates but failed to make the September debate stage and appeared unlikely to qualify for the October debates.

De Blasio struggled to achieve the breakout moment he needed to stand out in the crowded Democratic field. After a strong performance in the first round of debates in June he flubbed a campaign appearance in Miami by quoting Che Guevara. De Blasio said he did not know that the slogan "Hasta la victoria siempre!" was associated with Guevara, a leader of the Cuban Revolution who is reviled by much of Miami's Cuban population.

De Blasio boasted of his administration's record on police reform but was followed around on the campaign trail both by protesters from the city's largest police union and by hecklers demanding that he fire the officers involved in the 2014 death of Eric Garner on Staten Island. The protests did not end after the Aug. 19 firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner in the chokehold that contributed to his death. An activist interrupted de Blasio's Aug. 25 CNN town hall to demand that other officers who were also present during Garner's arrest be fired.



Bonnie & Clyde auction

A book of poetry handwritten by Bonnie Parker and a watch belonging to Clyde Barrow are among items from the outlaw Texas couple being offered at auction.

RR Auction will offer the items Saturday in Boston. Parker and Barrow were shot to death by lawmen in Louisiana in 1934 following a massive manhunt.

The auction house says Parker wrote the poetry in the bank book while in jail. Auction house executive vice-president Bobby Livingston says half the poems appear to be original compositions.

Other items being offered are a Bulova watch Barrow wore when he was killed, a draft of a Dallas police "wanted" poster for Barrow and a shotgun confiscated after a 1933 shootout in Joplin, Missouri, in which two lawmen were killed and the gang sped away.



Climate change protests

In Canberra and Kabul, Cape Town and Berlin, and across the globe, hundreds of thousands of people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. summit.

Many were children who skipped school to take part in the second "Global Climate Strike," following a similar event in March that drew large crowds.

Events kicked off in Australia, where protesters marched in 110 towns and cities, including Sydney and the national capital, Canberra. Demonstrators called for their country, the world's largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Even though we ourselves aren't sick, the planet which we live on is, and we are protesting and fighting for it," said Siobhan Sutton, a 15-year-old student at Perth Modern School.

Organizers estimate more than 300,000 protesters took to Australian streets in what would be the country's biggest demonstration since the Iraq War in 2003.

The protests are partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly demonstrations under the heading "Fridays for Future" over the past year, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change. Thunberg is expected to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday.

Hundreds of rallies took place across Europe, including in the Czech Republic, Germany, Britain and Poland, which is still widely coal-reliant and where many middle schools gave students the day off to enable them to participate in the rallies in Warsaw and other cities.

In Berlin, organizers said 80,000 people gathered in front of the capital's landmark Brandenburg Gate, not far from Chancellor Angela Merkel's office where the Cabinet was thrashing out the final details of a plan to curb Germany's greenhouse gas emissions .

In Helsinki, the Finnish capital, a man dressed as Santa Claus stood outside parliament holding a sign: "My house is on fire, my reindeer can't swim."

Smaller protests took place in Asia, including in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong and India.

"We need to reclaim our constitutional right to clean air and water," said Aman Sharma, a 16-year-old protester in India's capital New Delhi.

In Tokyo, hundreds of students and environmental activists marched through the business and shopping district of Shibuya, chanting "Climate Justice!" while holding hand-painted placards made of cardboard with messages such as "Go Green," ''Save the Earth," and "the Earth is on fire."

Smaller rallies were held in more than a dozen cities around Japan, including Kyoto, the nation's ancient capital that hosted the 1997 climate conference.

In a quiet protest in Seoul, about two dozen environmental activists flashed messages in Morse code on LED flashlights, calling for action to rescue the earth.

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, an armoured personnel carrier was deployed to protect about 100 young people as they marched, led by a group of several young women carrying a banner emblazoned with "Fridays for Future."

Fardeen Barakzai, one of the organizers and head of the local climate activist group, Oxygen, said "we want to do our part. We as the youth of our country know the problem of climate change. We know war can kill a group of people. ... The problem in Afghanistan is our leaders are fighting for power but the real power is in nature."

Rallies were also held in Johannesburg and the South African capital, Pretoria, as well as Kenya's capital, Nairobi, where some young protesters wore hats and outfits made from plastic bottles to emphasize the dangers of plastic waste, a major threat to both cities and oceans.

Climate change "is worse than homework," one sign proclaimed.

Experts say Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change and the least equipped to deal with it. Governments have pleaded for more support from the international community.

Further rallies were planned later Friday in the United States, where organizers say more than 800 events are expected.

___

McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia. Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.



Hurricane tears off roofs

Hurricane Humberto blew off rooftops, toppled trees and knocked out power as it blew past the British Atlantic island of Bermuda. But officials said Thursday that the Category 3 storm caused no reported deaths.

"We've made it through and everyone is safe," Premier David Burt said. "That's what is most important."

Security Minister Wayne Caines said power had been restored to most customers by midday Thursday and emergency crews were clearing roads of power lines damaged by the hurricane, which had winds of about 120 mph at its nearest approach to the island Wednesday night.

Caines said government offices would reopen Friday, though schools would remain closed.

"The country is getting back on its feet and the good news is there was no loss of life," he said.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Humberto had become a post-tropical cyclone out in the Atlantic, but would still kick up high surf at Bermuda and on the U.S. coast for a few days.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph late Thursday, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward for 380 miles. The storm was centred about 525 miles south-southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and moving to the northeast at 20 mph.

Meanwhile, a brush with land near Puerto Vallarta knocked newly formed Hurricane Lorena back down to tropical storm force, though forecasters said it would soon become a hurricane again on a track that would carry it close to the Los Cabos resorts at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula by midday Friday.

The storm's centre came onshore in darkness in the western state of Colima, whipping palm trees about with its strong winds and lashing the area with sheets of rain.

Lorena flooded streets, washed out roads and touched off minor slides in 10 municipalities. Dozens of trees were downed, and there were power outages in some areas.

Water topped the banks of an arroyo and swamped some homes in the port city of Manzanillo, where 21 people sought refuge at a temporary shelter at a school, state Gov. José Ignacio Peralta said Thursday.

Mexican officials voiced concern that some parts of southern Mexico, which have seen a lack of rainfall, could suffer dangerous flash floods and landslides unleashed by torrential rain.



Colt suspends AR-15

Gun-maker Colt is suspending its production of rifles for the civilian market including the popular AR-15, the company said Thursday in a shift it attributed to changes in consumer demand and a market already saturated with similar weapons.

The company said it will focus instead on fulfilling contracts with military and police customers for rifles.

"The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity," Colt's chief executive officer, Dennis Veilleux, said in a written statement. "Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future."

Veilleux said the company, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2016, remains committed to the Second Amendment. He said the company is expanding its lines of pistols and revolvers.

Despite a national debate on gun control, Colt's decision seems driven by business considerations rather than politics, said Adam Winkler, a gun policy expert at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

FBI statistics show more than 2.3 million people applied for background checks to purchase guns in August, up from just over 1.8 million in July. Those applications, the best available statistic from tracking gun sales, has have been rising steadily, with a slight decline after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, something call the "Trump slump."

Gun sales usually go up when gun buyers feel their access to such weapons are being threatened, Winkler said.

"Given these sales and the history of Colt being a completely disorganized, dysfunctional company that goes into bankruptcy and can't keep anything going properly, my assumption is that this is a business decision that is being driven by their own business problems," he said.

Still, Winkler said the company's decision risks alienating and angering its remaining customer base.

"We've seen in the past that when gun manufacturers are viewed to have given in to gun-safety advocates, gun owners will boycott them and really hurt their business," he said. "If they think a company like Colt is disrespecting their identity or giving in to the other side, Colt's likely going to see serious damage to its other firearms brands too."

The debate on gun control has focused in particular on assault-style rifles like AR-15s that have been used in mass shootings.



Imelda soaks Texas

The remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda unleashed torrential rain Thursday in parts of Texas and Louisiana, prompting hundreds of water rescues, a hospital evacuation and road closures as the powerful storm system drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been a combination of at least 1,000 high-water rescues and evacuations to get people to shelter, in anticipation of the threat lingering.

Although the amount of predicted rainfall is massive — forecasters say some places could see 40 inches or more this week — Imelda's deluge is largely targeting areas east of Houston.

The Houston area faced heavy rains Thursday, leading forecasters to issue a flash flood emergency through midday Thursday for Harris County. In that area, forecasters said 3 to 5 inches of rain is possible per hour.

Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston — the fourth-largest city in the U.S. — joined other Texas officials in urging drivers to stay off the roads. And even as the intensity of the deluge around Houston began to weaken in some parts, the area of 4.7 million people was still getting drenched with 1-2 inches of rain an hour, and some areas were warned that the high water in their neighbourhoods might not recede until the weekend.

"We're still putting water on top of water," said Jeff Linder, meteorologist of the Harris County Flood Control District.

No reports of deaths or injuries related to the storm were immediately reported Thursday.

East of Houston, some local officials said the rainfall was causing flooding. In Winnie, a town of about 3,200 people 60 miles east of Houston, a hospital was evacuated and water was inundating homes and businesses.

"It's as bad as I've ever seen it. Right now I'm in an absolute deluge of rain," Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said Thursday morning as he took cover under a carport at an auto dealership in Winnie. The town "looks like a lake."

Hawthorne said emergency workers completed more than 300 rescues overnight and some residents were up on their roofs because of rising floodwaters.

Airboats from the sheriff's office and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department were helping with the rescues, along with high-water vehicles, Hawthorne said.

"Right now, as a Texas sheriff, the only thing that I really want is for people to pray that it will quit raining," he added.



Trump tries subpoena block

President Donald Trump asked a federal judge Thursday to block an effort by New York prosecutors to obtain his tax returns.

Trump's attorneys filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York against the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who recently subpoenaed the president's accounting firm for eight years of Trump's state and federal returns.

The lawsuit was not immediately made public. But Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told The Associated Press the lawsuit is intended "to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case."

A message was left with Vance seeking comment. Trump's accounting firm declined to comment.

The lawsuit opens a new legal front in Trump's long-running fight to prevent his tax returns from becoming public and comes as his campaign is fighting a separate effort in California. A new law in the Democratic-led state says presidential candidates must release five years of tax returns to appear on the state's March 2020 primary ballot. Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee have sued, and a hearing is set Thursday in federal court in Sacramento.

Meanwhile, Democratic-led congressional committees are trying to obtain his tax returns and other records that could provide a window into his finances. Trump and three of his children filed a lawsuit in April seeking to block two House committees from getting records that his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, has said includes tax returns. And in July, the president sued to block the application of a new state law in New York that could allow a House committee to obtain his state tax returns.

Vance also has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records related to payments that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen helped arrange to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump. The Democratic district attorney is also pursuing a mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Vance's inquiry appears to be covering some of the same ground as federal prosecutors, who spent months probing payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Trump: Daniels and model Karen McDougal.

Cohen made one of the payments himself and arranged for American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, to make the other. He pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes and is serving a three-year sentence in federal prison.



Trump on gun control

President Donald Trump is pouring cold water on prospects for a bipartisan compromise on gun legislation, even as his aides circulate a draft plan on Capitol Hill.

Trump tells Fox News in an interview aired Thursday no deal is imminent. Six weeks after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Trump says, "We're going very slowly."

Trump says he doesn't want "bad people" to have weapons, but won't allow any plan to move forward that takes guns away from law-abiding people.

Trump says Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's call last week to confiscate AR-15-style rifles has made it more difficult for Republicans to make an agreement. Trump says: "A lot of people think this is just a way of taking away guns." He adds he won't let that happen.



Fighter jet hits power line

A Belgian F-16 fighter jet crashed Thursday in western France, damaging a house, setting a field ablaze and leaving a pilot suspended for two hours from a high-voltage electricity line after his parachute got caught, according to French authorities.

Emergency workers extracted the pilot safely after cutting off power in the area, and he has been taken to a nearby hospital for medical checks, a spokesman for the regional administration told The Associated Press.

No injuries have been reported. Surrounding homes were evacuated as the pilot was being taken down and firefighters battled the blaze from the crash.

One of the plane's wings sliced the roof and facade of a house in the town of Pluvigner, in Britanny, before plunging into a neighbouring farm field, said Ludovic Kauffer, who lives in the house.

Kauffer was at work at the time of the morning accident, but his parents were home and described to him the "booms" of the crash.

"My mother is in shock, my father is too," he told The AP. "The most important thing is that everyone is OK."

The plane was travelling from Belgium to a naval air base in France when it came down between the towns of Pluvigner and Landaul, according to a statement from the regional prefecture, or administration.

Two pilots were aboard, and both ejected before the crash. One was safely rescued but the other got stuck on the power line.



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