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Libyan coast guard boat rams into migrant dinghy, throwing 50 into Mediterranean

A Libyan coast guard boat rammed into a dingy carrying some 50 migrants just off Libya's coast on Friday, partially sinking the vessel. Many of those onboard were thrown into the Mediterranean Sea and had to swim to another Libyan ship nearby for safety, a rescue group said. It appeared to be the latest reckless sea interception of migrants by the Libyan coast guard, which is trained and financed by the European Union to stem the influx of migrants to Europe. Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe . The German sea rescue group Sea-Watch released a video appearing to show the Libyan coast guard boat nearing the dinghy, after which most of those on the vessel fall into the water. Sea-Watch said the Libyan coast guard then took the migrants aboard another ship, a coast guard frigate. EUROPE-BOUND MIGRANT BOAT SINKS OFF THE COAST OF LIBYA, LEADING TO AT LEAST 55 DEATHS There were no immediate reports of any fatalities or of anyone missing. Sea-Watch, which carries out rescue operations in the central Mediterranean, said the coast guard was chasing the rubber dingy since early Friday morning before slamming into its side. From their twin-engine Seabird, Sea-Watch rescuers had repeatedly called on the Libyan coast guard to stop chasing the dingy, they said. The Sea-Watch video, filmed from the Seabird, shows the migrants who were plunged into the sea swimming towards the nearby frigate and sailors throwing buoyance vests to them. Those who remained on the sinking dingy were pulled towards the frigate and were also taken on board. A spokesman from Libyan coast guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Sea-Watch spokesperson Felix Wiess told The Associated Press by phone that the incident took place roughly 30 miles north of Libya's western city of Zuwara. A civilian rescue ship Louise Michel arrived at the scene shortly afterward and asked to take the migrants, which the coast guard denied. MIGRANTS TRAPPED ON TUNISIA-LIBYA BORDER TRANSFERRED BACK TO TUNISIA AFTER FACING DANGEROUS CONDITIONS Since 2015, the EU has been funding the Libyan coast guard as part of efforts to stem the flow of migrants from the North African country towards Italian shores. Another rescue group, SOS Mediterranee, said in March that the Libyan coast guard fired warning shots at it as it attempted to rescue migrants from a packed ship. In October 2022, Sea-Watch said the coast guard threatened to shoot down its plane used to monitor the sea for smugglers and migrant vessels. Oil-rich Libya plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Human traffickers have benefited from the chaos in the North African country, smuggling migrants across Libya's vast borders, bringing them to the coast and packing them into ill-equipped rubber boats and other vessels that then set off on risky sea voyages. Over recent months, rescue groups say Italy's hard-line government headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has made it harder for humanitarian vessels to operate. They say the government often assigns their ships to ports further north after a single rescue, which the groups say limits their ability to save lives.

Acting Spanish PM gets second chance at power as conservatives struggle to set up new government

Spain's acting center-left Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez lost July's national election but now has a shot at returning to power after the leader of the country's conservatives failed for a second time Friday to get parliament's support for a new government. In a vote in the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, the Spanish parliament's lower chamber, Popular Party leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo collected 172 lawmakers' votes in his favor to 177 against him, with one vote declared null and void. That was roughly the same tally that he received two days earlier, in the first round of voting, and the defeat exhausted his chances of taking power, bar an exceptional turn of events. SPANISH CONSERVATIVES GET FIRST CHANCE AT FORMING GOVERNMENT FOLLOWING INCONCLUSIVE ELECTIONS The Popular Party holds 137 seats in the Congress of Deputies, the most of any party, following the election. But even with backing from the far-right Vox party's 33 lawmakers and two from small conservative rivals, it was not enough for Feijóo to win a simple parliamentary majority. The outcome extended the political limbo of the European Union's fourth-largest economy. The July election produced a splintered parliament made up of 350 legislators from 11 parties, making the path to power difficult for any one of them and requiring them to strike deals with rivals. If no government is in place by Nov. 27, another national election will be held on Jan. 14. Friday's vote opened a door for Socialist leader Sánchez, whose Socialists placed second in the election, to possibly return to power if he can persuade smaller parties to back him. King Felipe VI is due to meet separately next Monday and Tuesday with party leaders to assess ways out of the gridlock. He could then invite Sánchez to submit to a parliamentary vote to form a new government. Sánchez, 51, has been Spain's prime minister for the past five years and is the country's acting leader until a new government is formed. His outgoing government has delivered bold policies in such areas as women's rights and climate change . He called July's snap election after his party had a poor showing in local and regional elections Sánchez has quietly been trying to build a coalition in recent weeks, notably with the key support of Catalan parties in parliament who want the wealthy region to break away from the rest of Spain and fiercely oppose the conservatives. SPAIN'S CONSERVATIVE, RIGHT-WING PARTIES FAIL TO WIN ENOUGH VOTES TO BEAT SOCIALISTS IN GENERAL ELECTION The possibility that Sánchez is considering accepting politically explosive demands from the separatist parties that Spain grant an amnesty for hundreds, possibly thousands, of people who participated in a failed 2017 Catalan secession bid cast a long shadow over the parliamentary proceedings. Sánchez, who has pardoned several high-level Catalan separatists, has kept his plans under wraps. He hasn't mentioned the possibility of an amnesty, and only said that he wants to continue "normalizing" relations with the northeast region where tensions have decreased in recent years. But leading Catalan separatists have said that the amnesty is a real possibility. They have also said they want an independence referendum in Catalonia in return for their support. In a statement late Thursday, the Socialists said they wanted to keep discussions alive with the separatists but "always in accordance with the Constitution." That remark effectively killed off the chance of an independence ballot, though it was unclear to what extent each side was setting out its bargaining chips.

Eswatini, one of the world's last monarchies, holds largely ceremonial elections

The small southern African nation of Eswatini held elections Friday to decide part of the makeup of its Parliament, even as its extremely wealthy king retains absolute power, political parties are banned and elected representatives can merely advise a monarch whose family has reigned supreme for 55 years. Eswatini, wedged between South Africa and Mozambique, is the last absolute monarchy in Africa and one of the few remaining in the world. King Mswati III, 55, has been the monarch since 1986, when he became ruler days after his 18th birthday. His father was king for 82 years before him, although Eswatini only gained independence from Britain in 1968. It was formerly known as Swaziland. ZIMBABWE'S OPPOSITION CALLS FOR INTERNATIONALLY-SUPERVISED REDO OF CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION Parliamentary elections are held every five years. Candidates for the lower chamber, the House of Assembly, and for the Senate cannot belong to political parties, which were banned in 1973, and are nominated at a local level before they face a popular vote. Mswati III appoints a minority of House of Assembly members, and the majority are elected. He appoints a majority of the Senate, the prime minister and other key members of the government. As king, or the "Ngwenyama" - which means lion - Mswati III is sometimes advised by a council but has executive and legislative powers under law in the country of 1.2 million people and makes decisions by decree. A little over 500,000 people were registered to vote in Friday's election, the electoral body said. The African Union and the regional Southern African Development Community bloc sent observers. Mswati has faced increased pro-democracy protests in recent years, but activists demanding reform encountered a harsh crackdown from police and security forces under the king's control in June 2021, with dozens killed. The push for reform has continued, focusing primarily on allowing political parties and for the prime minister to be democratically elected. Two members of parliament were jailed for calling for democratic reforms during the 2021 protests. They were convicted this year under an anti-terrorism law that rights groups say is only designed to suppress criticism of Mswati and halt the push for democracy. UNITED NATIONS RIGHTS CHIEF CONDEMNS KILLING OF ACTIVIST IN ESWATINI The lawmakers, Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, now face up to 20 years in prison, according to CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society groups. Mswati has been accused of living lavishly while Eswatini's people struggle with widespread poverty, the world's highest HIV infection rate per capita and a life expectancy of 57 years, one of the lowest in the world. A 2008 report by Forbes magazine estimated Mswati's wealth at $200 million. He owns private jets, a fleet of luxury cars and reportedly wore a suit beaded with diamonds to his 50th birthday celebration. The king has at least 15 wives and has been criticized for using public money to build palaces for them. In its latest assessment, the World Bank estimated that more than half of Eswatini's people live on less than $3.65 a day.

Nighttime shooting attack at Mexican hospital leaves 4 dead, including doctor

A nighttime shooting attack on a hospital in northern Mexico has left four people dead, including a doctor, authorities said Friday. The attack happened near midnight Thursday in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan. The state is home to the drug cartel of the same name. State police said at least three gunmen tried to storm into the hospital, but two were killed in a gunbattle with security personnel. The doctor was apparently caught in the crossfire. A third assailant was wounded, but scuffled with a police officer as he was being taken to another hospital. The wounded assailant grabbed the officer's gun and shot himself with it, police said. MASSACHUSETTS PARTY DESCENDS INTO DEADLY CHAOS WHEN SUSPECT OPENS FIRE IN 'TARGETED' ATTACK Local media reported that the gunmen stormed the hospital in order to finish off a patient who had been wounded in an earlier gunbattle. However, the state prosecutors' office said it couldn't yet confirm that. Sinaloa has been the scene of fighting between various factions of the Sinaloa cartel, including the sons of imprisoned drug trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, other relatives and the old-guard cartel boss Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada. Attacks by drug cartel gunmen on ambulances and hospitals while hunting down wounded rivals have been a persistent problem in Mexico.

Taliban government to cease operations at Afghan Embassy in India's capital

India's External Affairs Ministry is examining a letter from the Afghan Embassy that says it plans to cease all operations in the Indian capital by Saturday, an official said Friday. India has not recognized the Taliban government which seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021. It evacuated its own staff from Kabul ahead of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago and no longer has a diplomatic presence there. To date, the Afghan Embassy in New Delhi has been run by staff appointed by the previous government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with permission from the Indian authorities. INDIA CHAFES AGAINST UN SECURITY COUNCIL IN FINAL DAY AT UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY However, the Afghan ambassador has been out of India for several months and a steady stream of diplomats has departed for third countries, reportedly after receiving asylum, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters. India has said it will follow the lead of the United Nations in deciding whether to recognize the Taliban government. Afghan embassy officials in New Delhi couldn't be reached on Friday. PAKISTANI MILITARY RAID KILLS 3 MILITANTS IN FORMER TALIBAN STRONGHOLD The Afghan media outlet TOLO said it had obtained the letter detailing the embassy's grievances conveyed to the Indian External Affairs ministry. The letter said the embassy's decision to permanently cease all operations by the end of September stems from its inability to maintain normal functioning due to "the absence of diplomatic consideration and systematic support" from the Indian External Affairs Ministry. Last year India sent relief material, including wheat, medicines, COVID-19 vaccines and winter clothing to Afghanistan to help with shortages there. In June last year, India sent a team of officials to its embassy in Kabul.

Liverpool-area bus wreck kills driver, 14-year-old girl

A bus carrying dozens of schoolchildren overturned on a highway near the English city of Liverpool on Friday, killing the driver and a 14-year-old girl, police said. HUNDREDS ATTEND FUNERAL OF LONG ISLAND BAND DIRECTOR KILLED IN BUS CRASH The bus was transporting students from Calday Grange Grammar School and West Kirby Grammar School on the Wirral Peninsula, across the River Mersey from Liverpool. Traffic on the M53 highway was blocked as police and other emergency services responded to the incident, which was reported shortly after 8 a.m. Two other occupants of the bus were taken to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool with serious injuries, while a number of other patients were taken to surrounding hospitals for treatment to minor injuries, North West Ambulance Service said. A total of 50 children were transported to a casualty clearing center. Thirty-nine of them were discharged while the others were taken to hospitals for further treatment.

As Paris Olympics approach, French authorities launch efforts to eradicate bedbugs

With the Paris Olympics less than a year away, French authorities want to make sure the bedbugs don't bite during the games and have started a drive to exterminate the pests. Social media users have been publishing footage of the insects crawling around in high-speed trains and the Paris metro, alongside a rash of online articles about bedbugs in cinemas and even Charles de Gaulle airport. The reports have reached the highest levels of government. "The state urgently needs to put an action plan in place against this scourge as France is preparing to welcome the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2024," the capital's deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said in a letter to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne this week. Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on Friday he will discuss the issue with transport operators next week. DESPITE FBI TAKEDOWN, INFAMOUS RACCOON STEALER MALWARE RETURNS At the Paris Gare de Lyon train station, travellers said they doubted whether authorities would be able to get on top of the problem. "I'm worried about it. I'll keep my luggage closed to stop (bedbugs) getting into my home. Once I get home, I'll have to wash all my clothes," Laura Mmadi, a sales worker heading to the south of France said. Coming into Paris from Nice, Sophie Ruscica said she had inspected her seat closely for any signs of the insects that feed on human blood and can live in a wide range of habitats as well as beds. "It stressed me out. I had to take the train and I wondered whether I would find bedbugs. But then again, one can find them in cinemas and just about everywhere," she said. In a report published in July, health agency Anses said that between 2017 and 2022, bedbugs had infested more than one in ten French households. "Everyone is panicking," pest control store manager Sacha Krief said. "People can really get depressed, even paranoid over it." Deputy mayor Gregoire called on insurers to include bedbug cover in house insurance policies, as low-income people rarely had the means to call in pest control firms .

Security forces replace militants in Palestinian refugee camp as cease-fire holds

A Palestinian security force deployed Friday in a school complex in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp in the country's south, replacing gunmen who had occupied it since fighting broke out in late July leaving more than 30 people dead. The deployment raises hopes that a nearly two-week cease-fire in the Ein el-Hilweh camp, near the southern port city of Sidon, will hold. On Sept. 14, members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group and two Islamic militant factions, Jund al Sham and Shabab al Muslim, agreed to a cessation of hostilities. The complex includes eight schools. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has been urging gunmen to evacuate the compound ahead of the school year that is supposed to start in early October. In the afternoon, the security force, consisting of 55 fighters from factions including Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Asbat al-Ansar, took over the badly damaged compound. Some of the school walls were riddled with bullets and rockets. In late July, Fatah accused the Islamic groups of gunning down a senior Fatah military official, Abu Ashraf al-Armoushi , triggering intense street battles . Several cease-fires were agreed but collapsed. The militants have still not handed over al-Armoushi's killers. EGYPT SETS DECEMBER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION DATE The commander of Shabab al Muslim, Haitham al-Shaabi told reporters that "the situation in the camp will soon return to normal." He refused to answer questions related to the handover of al-Armoushi's killers. The latest cease-fire agreement, reached on Sept. 14, came after clashes that killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 100. The previous round of fighting earlier in the summer killed at least 13. This week, UNRWA said that more than 11,000 Palestinian children in south Lebanon will not be able to join their peers at the beginning of the school year on Oct. 2. This is a quarter of refugee school children and is due to clashes in Ein el-Hilweh, UNRWA said. UNRWA's director in Lebanon Dorothee Klaus said earlier this week that the agency was forced to take this decision given "all our eight schools inside the camp have been taken over by armed groups." She added that the schools have sustained significant damage. Since the fighting began in late July, at least 4,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the camp, with many of them seeking refuge in UNRWA facilities.

US-backed Syrian Kurds report capture of key Islamic State figure

Syrian Kurdish fighters and American forces have captured a senior member of the Islamic State group, a militant described as one of its "key facilitators," the force said Friday. Mahmdouh Ibrahim al-Haji, also known as Abu Youssef, was taken into custody on Thursday in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa , according to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, just days after the U.S. military said it had captured another IS operator in northern Syria. ISRAELI TANKS STRIKE SYRIAN STRUCTURES IN DEMILITARIZED ZONE, ALLEGING 1974 CEASEFIRE VIOLATION According to a statement from the Syrian Kurdish fighters, al-Haji "was actively involved in enabling ... terrorist cells in the region." It added that the joint force raided his hideout west of Raqqa, "and successfully apprehended him." Despite their defeat in Syria in March 2019, IS sleeper cells are still able to carry out deadly attacks that have killed scores of people over the past year. UN SECURITY COUNCIL VOTES TO CONCLUDE YEAR-LONG PROBE INTO ISLAMIC STATE ACTIVITIES IN IRAQ The U.S. has approximately 900 troops in Syria focused on countering the remnants of IS, which had held a wide swath of the country until 2019. IS declared a self-styled caliphate across the territory in Syria and Iraq that it seized in 2014. It was declared defeated in Iraq in 2017, following a three-year battle that left tens of thousands of people dead and cities in ruins. U.N. experts said last month that IS still commands between 5,000 and 7,000 members across its former stronghold in Syria and Iraq and that its fighters pose the most serious threat in Afghanistan today.

Mexican president criticizes US aid to Ukraine and sanctions on Latin American nations in high-level meeting

Mexico's president on Friday slammed U.S. aid for Ukraine and economic sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba and other nations as the first of two high-level U.S.-Mexico meetings got underway in Washington. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a broad criticism of U.S. foreign policy, saying U.S. economic sanctions were forcing people to emigrate from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The harsh comments came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina and Trade Representative Katherine Tai were meeting their an counterparts at the State Department . Friday's talks will focus on commerce and trade issues but Blinken will lead a U.S. delegation to Mexico next week with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that will focus on border security and migration. The State Department said in a statement that Blinken would be meeting López Obrador during the Oct. 4-5 trip. MEXICAN MOTHER SHIELDS SON FROM BEAR CRASHING BIRTHDAY PARTY, DEVOURING TACOS ON PICNIC TABLE Experts say economic mismanagement and political repression are largely to blame for the tide of migrants leaving Venezuela and Cuba. López Obrador said the United States should spend some of the money sent to Ukraine on economic development in Latin America. "They (the U.S.) don't do anything," he said. "It's more, a lot more, what they authorize for the war in Ukraine than what they give to help with poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean." He called for a U.S. program "to remove blockades and stop harassing independent and free countries, an integrated plan for cooperation so the Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Ecuadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans wouldn't be forced to emigrate ." There has been a surge in Venezuelan migrants moving through Mexico in recent weeks in a bid to reach the U.S. border. Many of the migrants say deteriorating economic and political conditions in their home country led them to make the journey. Mexico has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but has adopted a policy of neutrality and has refused to participate in sanctions. Mexico also continues to buy 2020-vintage COVID-19 vaccines from Russia and Cuba . The Mexican president laughed off an effort by U.S. Republican lawmakers to cut the tiny amount of foreign aid the U.S. gives to Mexico. López Obrador estimated it involved $40 or $50 million, calling it "ridiculous."

Honk Kong police arrest an additional 4 linked to $200M JPEX cryptocurrency scam

Police in Hong Kong and Macao said Friday they arrested four more people linked to the cryptocurrency platform JPEX, which is suspected to have defrauded more than 2,400 people of almost $200 million. The arrests bring the total number of people detained so far in the case to 18. Police have received 2,417 reports involving more than $191.6 million in alleged losses on the platform. Hong Kong police said in a news conference Friday they had arrested two men, one of whom had been trying to destroy documents with paper shredders and bleach. Cash and gold worth nearly $1.15 million were also seized at three apartments in the latest police operation. Two other men were detained in Macao, with authorities seizing over $1.8 million in cash and valuables, as well as money in a casino account . Police said the two had visited Macao many times in September. Assistant police commissioner Chung Wing-man said the investigation had reached people who were "relatively close" to the core of JPEX's operations, but that it is not yet clear if the mastermind is a group of people or an individual. CHAIRMAN OF HONG KONG JOURNALIST ASSOCIATION FOUND GUILTY OF OBSTRUCTING POLICE Other individuals believed to be connected to the case are not currently in Hong Kong, although police are aware of their location, Chung said. In these cases, the police will work with authorities overseas to bring them to justice. "This case involves thousands of e-wallets and tens of thousands of transactions. Because of the anonymity of cryptocurrency in the cyber realm, it makes it quite difficult to identify the criminal behind (this case)," said Cheng Lai-ki, chief superintendent of the police force's Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau . "We will make every effort to hunt down the syndicate and also trace the cryptocurrency," she said. Earlier this month, Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission had issued a notice warning that JPEX was unlicensed and did not have authority to operate a cryptocurrency trading platform in the city. It said some investors had complained of being unable to withdraw their virtual assets from JPEX accounts or of finding their balances were "reduced and altered." Days later, the JPEX platform said it was suspending trading on its platform and blamed a third-party market maker for "maliciously" freezing funds. Several social media influencers who had been promoting JPEX were arrested earlier this month. Victims who had invested in JPEX were mostly inexperienced and had been lured to do so with the promise of low risks and high returns.

Spanish court rejects appeal to reopen John Mcafee's death investigation

A Spanish court has turned down an appeal to reopen the investigation into the 2021 death of British-American tycoon John McAfee, the creator of McAfee antivirus software, who was found dead in his jail cell near Barcelona as he awaited extradition to America. Authorities had determined that the 75-year-old killed himself and there was nothing to suggest otherwise, the court in Barcelona said Friday. The decision on the appeal was final. McAfee's family had asked for the case, closed with the court's suicide verdict in February 2022, to be reopened. FORMER BELARUSIAN OPERATIVE ACQUITTED IN SWISS COURT OVER DISAPPEARANCES OF LUKASHENKO OPPONENTS IN 1990S McAfee was arrested in October 2020 at Barcelona's international airport and had been in jail awaiting a court decision on his extradition to the United States to face charges of evading more than $4 million in taxes. Prosecutors in Tennessee were seeking up to three decades of imprisonment for him. McAfee had argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he returned to the United States. The eccentric cryptocurrency promoter and tax opponent had a history of legal troubles that spanned from the U.S. to Central America to the Caribbean .

Norway to bar Russian-registered cars in line with EU sanctions

Norway announced Friday that it will start barring Russian-registered passenger cars from entering the Scandinavian country starting next week, mirroring sanctions imposed by the European Union against Moscow over its war on Ukraine. Norway, which is a member of NATO but not of the EU, has a 123-mile-long border in the Arctic with Russia. The Scandinavian country "stands together with allies and like-minded people in the reactions against the brutal war of aggression by Russia," Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement. The ban means that Russian-registered passenger cars with nine or fewer seats can no longer be brought into Norway. Buses and minivans with ten or more seats will still be able to cross the border at Storskog, the sole crossing point between Norway and Russia. TESLA SWEEPS THE 2023 CARS.COM AMERICAN-MADE INDEX The government in Oslo said there will be exceptions for diplomatic vehicles, for cars owned by Norwegian citizens and their family members with permanent residence in Russia, and for travel necessary for humanitarian reasons, such as acute illness, death or family funerals. Under the EU's decision, motor vehicles registered in the Russian Federation are no longer allowed to enter the territory of the 27-member bloc, including the three Batlic countries - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - Finland and Poland. The sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation were published by the European Commission on Sept. 8. Norway said its ban would start on Monday at midnight.

Plane crash claims 6 lives at Zimbabwean mining company-owned site

A small plane owned by a mining company crashed in Zimbabwe on Friday and aviation authorities said preliminary reports indicated that all six people on board were killed. The plane belonged to Zimbabwe's RioZim Limited, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe director Elijah Chingosho said. It crashed near the Murowa Diamonds mine , in southwestern Zimbabwe, which is partly owned by RioZim. 186,000 MIGRANTS, REFUGEES HAVE ARRIVED IN SOUTHERN EUROPE IN 2023, UN SAYS Chingosho said police would provide more details of the crash, including the names of the dead, after their families had been informed. Local media reported that the plane was a Cessna small aircraft . RioZim was previously part of the British-Australian mining group Rio Tinto but is now wholly Zimbabwe-owned.

Islamic extremist attack in western Niger kills nearly a dozen soldiers amidst worsening security landscape

An attack by Islamic extremists in western Niger killed at least a dozen soldiers and wounded seven others, the West African nation's military junta said. The soldiers were on a mission in the Tillaberi region town of Kandadji when hundreds of jihadis on motorcycles attacked them Thursday, Gen. Salifou Mody, Niger's defense minister, said in a statement. The wounded were evacuated to military hospitals, the statement said. The junta claimed that military personnel killed a hundred extremists and destroyed their motorcycles and weapons. The Associated Press was not able to independently verify the claim. Niger has battled a jihadi insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group for years. Attacks have increased since mutinous soldiers toppled the country's democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, in July. During the month after the junta seized power, violence primarily linked to the extremists soared by more than 40%, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Jihadi attacks targeting civilians quadrupled in August compared with the month before, and attacks against security forces spiked in the Tillaberi region, killing at least 40 soldiers, the project reported. ALGERIA EXPANDS ENGLISH CLASSES AS FRANCE'S INFLUENCE WANES THROUGHOUT AFRICA Niger was seen as one of the last democratic countries in Africa's Sahel region that Western nations could partner with to beat back the jihadi insurgency in the vast expanse below the Sahara Desert. The United States, France and other European countries poured hundreds of millions of dollars into shoring up the Nigerien military. Amid a swell of anti-France sentiment in its former colony., French President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal by the end of the year of his country's 1,500 troops stationed in Niger. France's ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, left the country this week after a months'-long standoff with the junta, which had ordered him out. The loss of support from France and potentially from the United States will make it hard for the junta to stave off the jihadis, conflict analysts believe. "It's quite predictable to witness more and more jihadi operations," Wassim Nasr, a journalist and senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, said. "There's no more support from the French either by air or special forces," he said. "Once Niger's forces there lose the support of the allies, it's very difficult to sustain and hold onto the land." Thursday's attack occurred in an area where the Islamic State group is active and where French special operations forces were actively supporting Niger's military, Nasr said. The security vacuum left by the French has also further pit rival jihadi groups against each other, he said.

Central Greece battles aftermath of twin storms: Flooding, infrastructure damage, and environmental concerns

Bad weather eased in central Greece on Friday leaving widespread flooding and infrastructure damage across the farming region that has been battered by two powerful storms in less than a month. Divers located the body of missing pilot, a day after a helicopter flying in the bad weather crashed into the sea. In the storm-hit city of Volos, municipal workers were handing out bottled water as power and water outages remained in some districts for a third day, while rescue crews used excavators to clear debris-strewn roads blocking access to remote areas. The two storms, Daniel and Elias , struck central Greece and the island of Evia over three weeks in September, the first leaving 16 people dead, killing several hundred thousand farm animals and damaging highways, secondary roads and the rail network. In Volos Friday, city resident Georgia Sirtarioti, 76, stood in the doorway of her damaged home, close to tears, as her son Apostolis swept mud off the floor of their family home for a second time. "It would have been better if the (storm) had killed me, and got this over with," Sirtarioti said. NORTHERN EUROPE FACES WIDESPREAD DISRUPTION AS STORM HANS TRIGGERS HEAVY RAINS AND STRONG WINDS Despite the improving weather Friday, the risk of additional flooding remains high in several central cities and towns as river banks are vulnerable to high water levels, authorities said. The government said more than $2.1 billion in damage had been caused before the latest storm hit. It has promised residents emergency aid while seeking financial assistance from the European Union. The conservative government says dealing with the effects of climate change - intensifying wildfires in the summer followed by floods in the fall and winter - has become a national priority. But environmental groups say the government has no plans to scale back offshore natural gas exploration and the further development of gas infrastructure. The environmental groups Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature sent a legal notice to the Greek energy ministry on Monday seeking the cancellation of a planned liquefied natural gas plant in a remote northeast region that was recently devastated by wildfires

Putin selects former Prigozhin aide to train Ukrainian volunteers

Russian President Vladimir Putin has selected a former Wagner Group aide to coordinate volunteer soldiers in Ukraine.  The Kremlin announced the appointment of Andrei Troshev, a former aide to Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin , in a Friday statement. Putin told Troshev, in remarks released by the Kremlin, that his job is to "deal with forming volunteer units that could perform various combat tasks, primarily in the zone of the special military operation," a reference to the war in Ukraine. RUSSIA FORGOES INVESTIGATION INTO PRIGOZHIN CRASH UNDER INTERNATIONAL RULES: REPORT A former colonel, Troshev has previously served in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria with the Russian military .  Dmitry Peskov, a high-ranking Kremlin spokesman, told the press that Troshev is currently employed by the Ministry of Defense. The appointment of the Prigozhin-aligned mercenary shows Russian military officials are working to integrate the Wagner Group into the invasion effort. NOTORIOUS RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF TAPPED TO REPLACE PRIGOZHIN IN WAGNER'S AFRICA OPERATIONS Prigozhin, who was reportedly killed last month in a mysterious plane explosion while traveling in Russian airspace, staged a failed challenge to Putin in late June. The warlord initiated what observers called the most significant challenge to Putin's regime - but after marching his 25,000-strong mercenary forces to within 125 miles of Moscow, Prigozhin abruptly ended the operation and ordered his troops to return home before heading into exile in Belarus.  The future of the Wagner Group and its relationship with the Russian government have been a source of speculation since Prigozhin's apparent death. The mercenary outfit previously cooperated with the Russian military and trained soldiers in allied Belarus after the June coup. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to undergo hip replacement surgery

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is scheduled to undergo hip replacement surgery Friday, a procedure likely to put a temporary halt to his frequent international trips but otherwise not disrupt his activities. The 77-year-old leader should spend a few days in the Hospital Sirio-Libanes in the capital, Brasilia, before heading back to the presidential palace early next week, said Andrea Cordeiro of the president's press office. "The impact of Lula's surgery will probably be small and should not affect the decision-making process or negotiations in a significant way," said Paulo Calmon, a political science professor at the University of Brasilia. BRAZIL'S PRESIDENT SAYS JULIAN ASSANGE CAN'T BE PUNISHED FOR 'INFORMING SOCIETY' IN A 'TRANSPARENT' WAY "It is very likely that Lula, even in recovery, will continue to influence main decisions and will certainly demand to be informed of everything that is happening," Calmon added. Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure, which usually takes one to two hours, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Recovery varies from patient to patient, but most can resume light, day-to-day activities within three to six weeks. Many patients initially use a cane, crutches or a walker until balance and strength improve, to avoid falls that could jeopardize the surgery's success, says the orthopedic organization. The lian newspaper O Globo said Thursday that Lula would use a walker. His press office could not confirm that information. Lula is the oldest president in Brazil's history. During the election campaign last year, he often joked that despite being over 70, "I have the energy of a 30-year-old and the lust of a 20-year-old." BRAZIL, OTHER AMAZON RAINFOREST COUNTRIES TO MEET FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 14 YEARS OVER ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS Having served two previous presidential terms, in 2003-2010, Lula said during the campaign that if he won he had no intention of running for a fourth four-year term. But in July, he said that U.S. President Joe Biden's re-election campaign was an "encouragement" for him to run again in 2026. Lula has been busy since taking office Jan. 1 from the man he defeated in the October 2022 runoff election, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. After vowing to "bring Brazil back" onto the world stage, Lula has traveled to 21 countries, including United States, China, France, India, Argentina and Angola. "He tried to include all these crucial trips before the surgery ," said Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university in Sao Paulo. "Now he can't continue to travel like that." This week the president wore a mask to public events, following medical directives to lessen the risk of contracting a respiratory illness before his operation.

Algeria expands English classes as France's influence wanes throughout Africa

More than a year after Algeria launched a pilot program to teach English in elementary schools, the country is hailing it as a success and expanding it in a move that reflects a widening linguistic shift underway in former French colonies throughout Africa. Students returning to third and fourth grade classrooms this fall will participate in two 45-minute English classes each week as the country creates new teacher training programs at universities and eyes more transformational changes in the years ahead. "Teaching English is a strategic choice in the country's new education policy," Education Minister Abdelkrim Belabed said last week, lauding the move as an immense success. CHINA, ALGERIA TO STEP UP COOPERATION ON SECURITY, DEFENSE English is the world's most widely spoken language, accounts for the majority of content on the internet and remains a common language in business and science. And as France's economic and political influence wanes throughout Africa , Algeria is among a longer list of countries gradually transitioning toward English as their main foreign language. This year, neighboring Mali changed its constitution to remove French from its list of official languages and Morocco made English classes compulsory in high schools. Algeria has more French speakers than all but two nations - France itself and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nearly 15 million out of the country's 44 million people speak it, according to the International Organization of the French Language. Its officials frame English classes as a practical rather than political shift, noting the language's importance in scientific and technical fields. But questions about French's position in Algerian society have long been polarizing, as teachers and former education policy officials acknowledge. Retired high school principal Mohamed Arezki Ferdi believes Algeria should have begun the shift to English decades ago. The current initiative was launched by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who came to power in 2019. Previous leaders also tried to expand English but failed to overcome the French-educated elites who have long wielded power in the country. "We lost a lot of time," Ferdi said. "We should have introduced the English in primary schools when President (Abdelaziz) Bouteflika laid out his reform after coming to power in 1991. But at that time, French-speaking factions in Algeria had a lot of decision-making power in institutions." RENEWED CLASHES ERUPT IN ETHIOPIA'S AMHARA REGION OVER DISARMAMENT DISPUTE The expansion of English language learning comes as tensions increasingly flare between France and Algeria . The two share security interests over the political upheavals shaping contemporary West Africa. However, in recent years they have sparred repeatedly over immigration, extradition and how each country memorializes colonialism and the brutal war that resulted in Algeria's independence in 1962. Algeria plans to expand its current program to fifth grade next year. It will continue to instruct students in French for three hours each week in elementary schools. When English-language learning was introduced last year, Algerian officials reaffirmed their commitment to French and said it would continue to be taught widely. But in remarks this week at the beginning of the school year, Kamal Bedari, Algeria's minister of Higher Education, said expanding the program was to enable elementary school students to take technical courses later on in English - not French. Though few dispute that English is important, some worry about how Algeria is implementing such a shift and caution against declaring victory too soon. Ahmed Tessa, a former adviser to Algeria's Ministry of Education, believes getting students to master English can only happen gradually and will likely require more than simply adding classes. "We need to get back to basics," he said. "This is no small task." Regardless of how quickly schools transition to English, elsewhere signs of a pushback against French are clear. Authorities have slowly replaced French with English in the official titles of various government ministries. And on his trip last year to Algiers, the country had French President Emmanuel Macron provide remarks from a lectern noting his title and the date in English and Arabic, one of Algeria's two official languages along with indigenous Tamazight.

186,000 migrants, refugees have arrived in southern Europe in 2023, UN says

The U.N. refugee agency said Thursday that some 186,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Southern Europe so far this year, the vast majority in Italy. Between January and Sept. 24, over 2,500 people seeking to cross the Mediterranean were found dead or are still missing, a significant increase from the 1,680 people who died or were missing during the same period in 2022, Ruven Menikdiwela, director of the New York office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told the U.N. Security Council. The UNHCR estimates that over 102,000 refugees and migrants from Tunisia - a 260% increase from last year- and over 45,000 from Libya tried to cross the central Mediterranean to Europe between January and August, she said. TINY ITALIAN ISLAND OVERWHELMED WITH THOUSANDS OF MIGRANTS WHO ARRIVED WITHIN 24 HOURS Some 31,000 people were rescued at sea or intercepted, and disembarked in Tunisia while 10,600 disembarked in Libya, Menikdiwela said. The majority of migrants and refugees who made it to southern Europe arrived in Italy- over 130,000, an increase of 83% compared to the same period in 2022, she said. The others landed in Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta. Menikdiwela told a council meeting called by Russia on migration to Europe that the high departure rates from Tunisia "result from the perception of insecurity among refugee communities, following incidents of racially motivated attacks and hate speech, as well as collective expulsions from Libya and Algeria." UNHCR faces restrictions in Libya where it has registered 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers and "the conditions of thousands of refugees and migrants in both official and unofficial detention facilities.... remain of grave concern," she said. The UNHCR figures she quoted were similar to those presented by Par Liljert, director of the International Office for Migration's office to the United Nations. POLAND DEPLOYS 2,000 MORE TROOPS TO ITS BORDER, ACCUSES BELARUS OF ORGANIZING ILLEGAL MIGRATION He also highlighted "the dire conditions facing migrants and refugees" seeking to cross the Mediterranean. "Recent IOM data demonstrates that from January to September 2023, more than 187,000 individuals crossed the Mediterranean in pursuit of a better future and the promise of safety," Liljert told the council. "Tragically, during this same period, IOM recorded 2,778 deaths with 2,093 of them occurring along the treacherous central Mediterranean route," which is the most dangerous. "Yet, despite its clear dangers, in 2023 there has been an increase in arrivals to Greece along this route of over 300%, while the number of arrivals in Spain has remained steady, primarily through the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands as compared to the numbers recorded at the same time last year," he said. IOM also witnessed a significant increase in arrivals to Italy, with 130,000 so far this year compared to around 70,000 in 2022.

Over 70% of population in Nagorno-Karabakh flees as separatist country reintegrates with Azerbaijan

More than 70% of Nagorno-Karabakh's original population has fled to Armenia as the region's separatist government said it will dissolve itself and the unrecognized republic inside Azerbaijan will cease to exist by year's end after a three-decade bid for independence. By Friday morning 84,770 people had left Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Armenian officials, continuing a mass exodus from the region of ethnic Armenians that began Sunday. The region's population was around 120,000 before the exodus began. The moves came after Azerbaijan carried out a lightning offensive last week to reclaim full control over the breakaway region and demanded that Armenian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh disarm and the separatist government disband. 20 DEAD IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH IN EXPLOSION AT GAS STATION CROWDED WITH RESIDENTS FLEEING TO ARMENIA A decree signed by the region's separatist President Samvel Shakhramanyan cited a Sept. 20 agreement to end the fighting under which Azerbaijan will allow the "free, voluntary and unhindered movement" of Nagorno-Karabakh residents to Armenia. Some of those who fled the regional capital of Stepanakert said they had no hope for the future. "I left Stepanakert having a slight hope that maybe something will change and I will come back soon, and these hopes are ruined after reading about the dissolution of our government," 21-year-old student Ani Abaghyan told The Associated Press on Thursday. During the three decades of conflict in the region , Azerbaijan and separatists inside Nagorno-Karabakh, alongside allies in Armenia, have accused the other of targeted attacks, massacres and other atrocities, leaving people on both sides deeply suspicious and fearful. While Azerbaijan has pledged to respect the rights of ethnic Armenians in the region, most are now fleeing as they do not believe the Azerbaijani authorities will treat them fairly and humanely or guarantee them their language, religion and culture. After six years of separatist fighting ended in 1994 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia. Then, during a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan took back parts of the region in the south Caucasus Mountains along with surrounding territory that Armenian forces had claimed earlier. Nagorno-Karabakh was internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan's sovereign territory. THOUSANDS OF ARMENIANS FLEE NAGORNO-KARABAKH AS AZERBAIJAN RECLAIMS SEPARATIST REGION In December, Azerbaijan blockaded the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, alleging the Armenian government was using it for illicit weapons shipments to the region's separatist forces. Armenia alleged the closure denied basic food and fuel supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan rejected the accusation, arguing that the region could receive supplies through the Azerbaijani city of Aghdam - a solution long resisted by Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, who called it a strategy for Azerbaijan to gain control of the region. On Monday night, a fuel reservoir exploded at a gas station where people lined up for gas to fill their cars to flee to Armenia. At least 68 people were killed and nearly 300 injured, with over 100 others still considered missing after the blast, which exacerbated fuel shortages that were already dire after the blockade. On Thursday, Azerbaijani authorities charged Ruben Vardanyan, the former head of Nagorno-Karabakh's separatist government, with financing terrorism, creating illegal armed formations and illegally crossing a state border. A day earlier, he was detained by Azerbaijani border guards as he was trying to leave Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia along with tens of thousands of others. Vardanyan, a billionaire who made his fortune in Russia, was placed in pretrial detention for at least four months and faces up to 14 years in prison. His arrest appeared to indicate Azerbaijan's intent to quickly enforce its grip on the region. Another top separatist figure, Nagorno-Karabakh's former foreign minister and now presidential adviser David Babayan, said Thursday he will surrender to Azerbaijani authorities who ordered him to face a probe in Baku.

Bombing in Pakistan kills dozens at Muslim celebration

A powerful bomb detonated near a mosque at an event celebrating the birthday of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in southwestern Pakistan on Friday, killing at least 52 people and injuring nearly 70 others, authorities say. The blast, which authorities said was a suicide bombing, occurred in Mastung, a district in Baluchistan province, where around 500 people had gathered for a procession to celebrate the birth anniversary of Muhammad. Muslims hold rallies and distribute free meals to people on the occasion, which is known as Mawlid an-Nabi. TV footage and social media videos showed the aftermath of the bombing. An open area near the mosque was strewn with the shoes of the dead and wounded. People were seen rushing the injured to receive medical care, and a state of emergency has been declared at local hospitals, which have issued calls for blood donations, the Associated Press reported. Several of those injured in the blast were taken to the hospital in critical condition, government administrator Atta Ullah said. Abdul Rasheed, the District Health Officer in Mastung, said 30 bodies were taken to one hospital and 22 others were counted at a second hospital.  8 DEAD IN SOUTHERN PAKISTAN AFTER ROCKET LAUNCHER SHELL ACCIDENTALLY EXPLODES IN VILLAGE "The bomber detonated himself near the vehicle of the Deputy Superintendent of Police," Munir Ahmed, the deputy inspector general of police, told Reuters. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes amid a surge in activity by militant groups in Pakistan.  PAKISTANI JOURNALIST ADVOCATING FOR JAILED EX-PRIME MINISTER IMRAN KHAN FINALLY FREED FROM CAPTIVITY The Pakistan Taliban is known to target security forces, but it distanced itself from the attack. The group, which has carried out some of the bloodiest attacks inside Pakistan since its founding in 2007, claims it does not target places of worship or civilians.  Authorities had earlier asked police to remain on maximum alert, saying militants could target rallies commemorating the birthday of Muhammad.  PAKISTAN ARRESTS DISSIDENT TV NEWS ANCHOR Another blast Friday hit a mosque located on the premises of a police station in Hangu, a district in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, injuring seven people, a local police officer told the Associated Press. He said the mud-brick mosque collapsed due to the impact and rescuers were attempting to remove debris and pull worshipers out of the rubble. Police have not yet determined the cause of that blast.  There were around 40 people worshiping inside the mosque, mostly police officers, when the blast went off. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP Pakistan's President Arif Alvi has condemned the attack and requested that authorities provide all possible assistance to the wounded and the victims' families.  In a statement, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti denounced the bombing and expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives. He said it was a "heinous act" to target people in the Mawlid an-Nabi procession. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Russia's turn to North Korea for much-needed ammo a 'last resort' in Ukraine conflict: 'Hitting the dregs'

North Korea's potential partnership with Russia, which would see the country supply Moscow with much-needed munitions, is likely to make little impact in the ongoing Ukraine conflict, experts told Fox News Digital. "If you're going to North Korea for help, you're kind of hitting the dregs," said Seth Jones, director of both the International Security Program and Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "North Korea is a desperate country. It's been sidelined by pretty much everybody, it's got massive famine in the country - if you're going to the North Koreans for help, this is a last resort." Moscow's war with Ukraine, which is about to enter its 20th month, has consumed a vast amount of munitions and destroyed significant numbers of heavy artillery on both sides, driving both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to find any additional support they can in order to last longer than the other side.  Putin this month hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss a potential arms deal, though neither leader signed any formal agreement by the end of the six-day trip. North Korea would reportedly receive advanced weapons technology and food supplies from Russia in exchange for more ammo and artillery. NORTH KOREAN BORDERS OPEN TO FOREIGN VISITORS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE COVID-19: REPORT Russian state media reported that the only weapons that changed hands were gifts from a regional Russian governor who gifted Kim with five "kamikaze" drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest. The move to secure further munitions is a vital one but not one that experts seem to think will yield the benefits Putin requires. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said he was "skeptical" that any contribution North Korea could make, including artillery rounds, would prove "decisive" or make any difference. "Neither Russia nor Ukraine has access to sufficient weapons to continue at the pace that they're going right now," Jones said. RUSSIAN COMMANDER PURPORTEDLY SEEN IN VIDEO FROM STATE MEDIA AFTER UKRAINE DECLARED HIM KILLED IN STRIKE "There are two options: One is you produce those kinds of materials yourselves - you increase production - and neither of those countries have the ability to do it," he continued. "The second is then you resort to aid from allies and partners." Zelenskyy did his part by securing a deal with President Biden for $325 million in aid, including anti-tank weapons, air defense equipment, artillery rounds and other equipment. Biden reiterated the U.S. commitment to "help Ukraine build a force capable of ensuring Ukraine's long-term security, capable of deterring future threats against sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom." Putin has turned to a number of nations across Asia and Asia Minor, drawing support mainly from China and Iran, the latter of which has contributed drones and training for Russian troops . TENSIONS RISE AMID CLAIMS OF RUSSIA, SERBIA INTERFERENCE IN KOSOVO FOLLOWING RECENT BLOODSHED Ukraine this month claimed to have intercepted phone calls from Russian frontline troops who complained about the heavy losses and lack of critical supplies since July - 17 calls, according to Reuters. Sung-Yoon Lee , a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told Fox News Digital that while the partnership might not provide significant and immediate results for Russia in Ukraine, it would "strengthen both nations' long-term standing vis-à-vis the U.S." "North Korea's increased arms [and] ammo supply to Russia in the wake of the Putin-Kim Jong Un summit earlier this month has both a practical and psychological effect," Lee said. "While the impact on the battleground may be modest, Putin may feel secure in the knowledge that he has a steady and virtually inexhaustible source of arms and ammunition," he continued. "For the U.S. and its allies, the specter of close, long-term military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang is a most unwelcome development," Lee explained. "Russia may in time help North Korea with advanced satellite and nuclear-powered submarine technology, which will embolden Kim to become more daring and provocative toward South Korea, U.S. forces in Korea, and Japan," he added. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Netanyahu warns of potential 'eruption of AI-driven wars' that could lead to 'unimaginable' consequences

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the world is on the cusp of an artificial intelligence revolution that could launch nations into prosperous times or lead to all-out destruction fueled by devastating high-tech wars.  "The AI revolution is progressing at lightning speed," Netanyahu said during his U.N. General Assembly speech last week . "It took centuries for humanity to adapt to the agricultural revolution. It took decades to adapt to the industrial revolution. We may have but a few years to adapt to the AI revolution." Talk of artificial intelligence at the U.N. was hardly common just a few years ago. But after the release of ChatGPT's wildly popular chatbot that can mimic human conversation and other AI-powered platforms, AI has become a hot topic among world leaders.  Netanyahu's speech focused on building a peaceful "new Middle East," and cited relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as evidence of this intention. He devoted the latter half of his speech to the future of AI and the "perils" the technology poses.  EXPERTS WARN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COULD LEAD TO 'EXTINCTION' "The perils are great, and they are before us: The disruption of democracy, the manipulation of minds, the decimation of jobs, the proliferation of crime and the hacking of all the systems that facilitate modern life," he said.  "Yet, even more disturbing is the potential eruption of AI-driven wars that could achieve an unimaginable scale," Netanyahu said. "Behind this perhaps looms an even greater threat, once the stuff of science fiction - that self-taught machines could eventually control humans instead of the other way around." TECH EXPERTS OUTLINE THE FOUR WAYS AI COULD SPIRAL INTO WORLDWIDE CATASTROPHES Netanyahu's remarks at the U.N. echo concerns from other world leaders and experts who have warned AI could be used by bad actors or global adversaries during war, which could lead to more death. Earlier this year, Fox News Digital asked ChatGPT to provide examples of "scary AI," and even the chatbot cited AI-powered weapons used in war. "An example of 'scary AI' is an advanced autonomous weapon system that can independently identify and attack targets without human intervention," the chatbot responded. "These systems, often referred to as 'killer robots' or 'lethal autonomous weapons,' raise ethical concerns and the potential for misuse or unintended consequences." Researchers at the tech nonprofit Center for AI Safety published a study earlier this year detailing four ways AI could spiral into worldwide catastrophes, including an AI race between nations that could translate to "more destructive wars, the possibility of accidental usage or loss of control and the prospect of malicious actors co-opting these technologies for their own purpose."  WHAT IS AI? "Although walking, shooting robots have yet to replace soldiers on the battlefield , technologies are converging in ways that may make this possible in the near future," the researchers explained. NEXT GENERATION ARMS RACE COULD CAUSE 'EXTINCTION' EVENT: TECH EXECUTIVE Netanyahu called on other nations to address such concerns about a future where "self-taught machines could eventually control humans" and to ensure "that the promise of an AI utopia does not turn into an AI dystopia." On the flip side, the Israeli prime minister called on people to "imagine" various scenarios of a more prosperous and efficiently run world by using AI in day-to-day tasks.  "Imagine robots helping to care for the elderly," Netanyahu said, joking that his speech sounded like "a John Lennon song." "Imagine the end of traffic jams with self-driving vehicles on the ground, below the ground and in the air. Imagine personalized education that cultivates each person's full potential throughout their lifetime." WHAT IS CHATGPT? Following his visit to the U.S., where he delivered his U.N. speech and also met with tech leader Elon Musk and President Biden, Netanyahu said he plans to make Israel the "No. 3 country in the world" for AI.  "For several months now, I have been formulating a national plan," Netanyahu said Wednesday, according to The Jerusalem Post. ."Soon I will appoint a project manager on the subject, and I will also submit the national plan to the government and the public. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP " Artificial intelligence is an area that is much stronger than cyber, immeasurably stronger than cyber, and we have set the goal of turning the State of Israel into the No. 3 country in the world in this field, a very ambitious goal," he added. 

UK police arrest teenager in connection to cutting down ancient tree seen in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves'

A famous centuries-old in Northumberland National Park in the United Kingdom was cut down overnight, and police have captured the 16-year-old culprit. Located at the Sycamore Gap near Hadrian's Wall, the tree was featured in the 1991 movie, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." The iconic Hadrian's Wall dates back to the Roman Empire, and construction of the wall began in 122 A.D. on the orders of Emperor Hadrian, who was visiting Britain at that time. LONDON POLICE FORCE PLEDGES TO REFORM FOLLOWING REPORT ACCUSING DEPARTMENT OF RACISM, MISOGYNY, HOMOPHOBIA The tree does not date back as far, but it is estimated to be between 200 and 300 years old, according to reports. On Thursday morning, images showed the large tree on its side, separated from its heart-shaped stump. Officials at the Northumberland National Park issued a statement on the fallen tree after it was discovered. SHOPLIFTING 'EPIDEMIC' HITS MAJOR EUROPEAN CITY AS STORES OFFER TO EQUIP STAFF WITH BODYCAMS "Northumberland National Park Authority can confirm that sadly, the famous tree at Sycamore Gap has come down overnight. We have reason to believe it has been deliberately felled," the statement read. "We are working with the relevant agencies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark and will issue more details once they are known." The Northumbria Police Department investigated the matter, condemning the vandalism and vowing to bring anyone responsible to justice. "The tree is a world-renowned landmark, and the vandalism has caused shock and anger throughout the local community and beyond," the department said. DAREDEVIL SKYDIVER MAKES PERFECT LANDING ON BIZARRE POOL TOY: 'COMING FOR YA' Police said it appeared to be a deliberate act of violence. Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said she was devastated that the famous tree was gone. "That tree was ours," she said. "It was an iconic North East landmark standing tall in our beautiful Northumberland. I am incandescent that this looks like a deliberate act of vandalism. I'll be raising this personally today. I know Northumbria Police are at the scene and officers will do their utmost to catch whoever is behind this. Terrible news." KILLER PEDIATRIC NURSE LUCY LETBY FACES RETRIAL ON ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGE By afternoon, police had arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with the incident. Police said the teenager remained in custody and was assisting police with their investigation. Still, the investigation remains open, and the department asks anyone with information to visit its website and click on the "Tell Us Something" page or by calling the department directly.

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