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Nation and World briefs for November 23

Democrats face hot-potato politics of sexual predation, too

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats have been quick to support the “me too” chorus of women — and some men — who have stepped up to allege sexual misconduct and name names. But now “me too” stains the Democrats, too, putting them in an awkward place as they calibrate how forcefully to respond.

Allegations against Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan are part of the newest chapter in the hot-potato politics of sexual predation for the party, which has its own fraught history on the subject.

The latest revelations have prompted a hard look back at the way Democrats and their allies once circled the wagons around President Bill Clinton, dismissing allegations that extended to serious assault as mere dalliances or the tales of “looney” women.

In her 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton drew a clear line on behalf of women who allege sexual assault, saying flatly: “You have the right to be believed.” But she equivocated when asked if her husband’s accusers from another decade should be believed, too: “I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.”

The pressure’s on now to act without equivocation.

Zimbabwe’s incoming leader returns home to cheers

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Poised to become Zimbabwe’s next president, a former confidant of ousted leader Robert Mugabe on Wednesday promised “a new, unfolding democracy” and reached out to the world, saying international help is needed to rebuild the shattered economy.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled Zimbabwe upon being fired from his job as vice president on Nov. 6, made a triumphant return to the country a day after 93-year-old Mugabe resigned. His departure after 37 years in power followed a week of intense pressure — from the military that staged a government takeover, from members of parliament who started impeachment proceedings and from citizens who protested in the streets.

While Mnangagwa talked in his speech about democracy and “working together,” he also recited slogans from the ruling ZANU-PF party such as “Forward with ZANU-PF, down with enemies” that are unlikely to attract Zimbabweans in the opposition.

He served for decades as Mugabe’s enforcer, a role that earned him the nickname “Crocodile.” Many opposition supporters believe he was instrumental in the army killings of thousands of people when Mugabe moved against a political rival in the 1980s.

Mnangagwa was in hiding during the political drama that led to Mugabe’s resignation. His appearance at the headquarters of the party electrified a crowd that waited for hours. Flanked by bodyguards, and dressed in a blue suit, he raised his fists and danced a little on a podium, delighting supporters who hope he can guide Zimbabwe out of political and economic turmoil that has exacted a heavy toll on the southern African nation of 16 million.

Unrepentant Mladic sentenced to life for Bosnia atrocities

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An unrepentant Ratko Mladic, the bullish Bosnian Serb general whose forces rained shells and snipers’ bullets on Sarajevo and carried out the worst massacre in Europe since World War II, was convicted Wednesday of genocide and other crimes and sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Defiant to the last, Mladic was ejected from a courtroom at the United Nations’ Yugoslav war crimes tribunal after yelling at judges: “Everything you said is pure lies. Shame on you!”

He was dispatched to a neighboring room to watch on a TV screen as Presiding Judge Alphons Orie pronounced him guilty of 10 counts that also included war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Human-rights organizations hailed the convictions as proof that even top military brass long considered untouchable cannot evade justice forever. Mladic spent years on the run before his arrest in 2011.

“This landmark verdict marks a significant moment for international justice and sends out a powerful message around the world that impunity cannot and will not be tolerated,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe director.

Ferguson, Mo., leaders wonder if monitor worth cost

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Ferguson, Missouri, has paid nearly a half-million dollars to the monitor team overseeing its police and court reforms, but city leaders question what they’ve gotten for their money, especially after the departure of the original lead monitor.

Washington attorney Clark Kent Ervin resigned in September after serving a little over a year as lead monitor overseeing the consent agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014. Boston attorney Natashia Tidwell, who has been with the Ferguson monitor team since its start, now leads it.

Concerns over the cost of monitoring were detailed in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.

The money spent on monitoring is costly in Ferguson, paid for entirely with city funds. The community of 20,000 is much smaller, with far less money, than most cities subject to Justice Department consent agreements. Money is so tight that Ferguson voters twice in 2016 approved tax increases to keep the budget balanced.

Mayor James Knowles III said Ervin failed to follow through on some projects, including opening an office in Ferguson and surveying residents. City Attorney Apollo Carey said his departure slowed a court audit and other reforms.

Good night, night: Light pollution increasing around globe

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The world’s nights are getting alarmingly brighter — bad news for all sorts of creatures, humans included.

A German-led term reported Wednesday that light pollution is threatening darkness almost everywhere. Satellite observations during five Octobers show Earth’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by 2 percent a year from 2012 to 2016. So did nighttime brightness.

Light pollution is actually worse than that, according to the researchers. Their measurements coincide with the outdoor switch to energy-efficient and cost-saving light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. Because the imaging sensor on the polar-orbiting weather satellite can’t detect the LED-generated color blue, some light is missed.

The observations, for example, indicate stable levels of night light in the United States, Netherlands, Spain and Italy. But light pollution is almost certainly on the rise in those countries given this elusive blue light, said Christopher Kyba of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences and lead author of the study published in Science Advances .

Also on the rise is the spread of light into the hinterlands and overall increased use. The findings shatter the long-held notion that more energy efficient lighting would decrease usage on the global — or at least a national — scale.

Christopher Plummer has this to say about retirement — never

NEW YORK (AP) — At 87, Christopher Plummer isn’t just working — he’s busy.

He has five movies scheduled for release, including “A Christmas Carol” origin story called “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” And he plans to work until the very end, literally.

“I love my work. I love what I do. And I’m so sorry for a majority of people who do not like their jobs, and can’t wait to retire, which of course, is death. I’ll never retire. I hope to drop dead onstage. That’s what I really want to do.”

Plummer, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the film, recently toured a Charles Dickens exhibit at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. Plummer admits that Dickens, especially “A Christmas Carol,” was a big part of his upbringing.

“All my family had grown up on Scrooge, and some of them had actually seen Dickens lecture and tell stories. So you took it for granted that it was part of Christmas cheer,” Plummer said.

Rand Paul’s wife speaks out on ‘blindside attack’ on husband

WASHINGTON (AP) — The wife of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says her husband hasn’t taken a single breath without pain since what she calls “a deliberate, blindside attack” by a Kentucky neighbor earlier this month.

Authorities say the Republican was attacked Nov. 3 by Rene Boucher while mowing his lawn. Kelley Paul writes in an essay published by CNN that her husband suffered six broken ribs and fluid in his lungs. Paul says he was diagnosed with pneumonia after returning from Washington last week.

Boucher is charged with misdemeanor assault. His attorney blames the attack on a “trivial” dispute and says it wasn’t politically motivated.

Kelly Paul says neither she, nor her husband, have spoken to Boucher in 10 years. She writes that “the only ‘dispute’ existed solely in the attacker’s troubled mind.”

 

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