AP News in Brief 09-26-19

Iran president warns of a region ‘on the edge of collapse’

UNITED NATIONS — Iran’s president used the world’s stage on Wednesday to warn that security in the Persian Gulf could unravel with a “single blunder” and its fragile peace be guaranteed only by the region’s countries, not through U.S. intervention or Washington’s “merciless economic terrorism.”

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President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States of engaging in “international piracy” against his country by re-imposing economic sanctions after Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Tehran “will never negotiate with an enemy that seeks to make Iran surrender with the weapon of poverty,” Rouhani said in his highly anticipated speech at the U.N. General Assembly. “Stop the sanctions so as to open the way for the start of negotiations.”

His words came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced additional U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s ability to sell its oil, this time imposing penalties on six Chinese companies and their chief executives for continuing to transport Iranian crude.

“We’re telling China and all nations, know that we will sanction every violation of sanctionable activity,” Pompeo said at an event for United Against a Nuclear Iran, a lobby group opposed to the nuclear deal, a few blocks from where Rouhani was speaking at the United Nations’ headquarters.

‘We’re all in big trouble’: Climate panel sees a dire future

NEW YORK — Earth is in more hot water than ever before, and so are we, an expert United Nations climate panel warned in a grim new report Wednesday.

Sea levels are rising at an ever-faster rate as ice and snow shrink, and oceans are getting more acidic and losing oxygen, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report issued as world leaders met at the United Nations.

It warned that if steps aren’t taken to reduce emissions and slow global warming, seas will rise 3 feet by the end of the century, with many fewer fish, less snow and ice, stronger and wetter hurricanes and other, nastier weather systems.

“The oceans and the icy parts of the world are in big trouble, and that means we’re all in big trouble, too,” said one of the report’s lead authors, Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “The changes are accelerating.”

The dire effects will be felt on both land and sea, harming people, plants, animals, food, societies, infrastructure and the global economy. In fact, the international team of scientists projected for the first time that some island nations will probably become uninhabitable.

From wire sources

An unrepentant Boris Johnson faces raucous Parliament

LONDON — An unrepentant Prime Minister Boris Johnson brushed off cries of “Resign!” and dared his foes to try to topple him Wednesday at a raucous session of Parliament, a day after Britain’s highest court ruled he acted illegally in suspending the body ahead of the Brexit deadline.

Amid shouts, angry gestures and repeated cries of “Order!” in the House of Commons, Johnson emphatically defended his intention to withdraw Britain from the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a separation agreement with the EU.

“I say it is time to get Brexit done,” he declared, accusing his opponents of trying to frustrate the will of the people, who in 2016 voted 52% to 48% to leave the 28-nation bloc.

Johnson was greeted with applause from his own Conservative lawmakers and jeers from the opposition side as he arrived in the Commons, hours after cutting short a trip to the United Nations in New York.

He flew home early after Britain’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled Tuesday that his attempt to suspend Parliament for five weeks had the effect of stymieing its scrutiny of the government over Brexit. The court declared the suspension void.

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North Korea-born YouTubers offer peek into lives in homeland

SEOUL, South Korea — Wearing a fedora, Jang Myung-jin shouts “Hello, comrades!” as he starts his YouTube broadcast, titled “A North Korean man, Tango.” Then, he talks about whether North Koreans raise pet dogs, what type of profanity they use and whether there are any transgender people in the country.

The 32-year-old Jang is among a handful of young North Korean refugees in South Korea who have launched YouTube channels that offer a rare glimpse into the everyday lives of people in North Korea, one of the world’s most secretive and repressive countries.

While mainstream outside media reports on North Korea focus on heavy subjects like the North’s nuclear program or its internal power hierarchy, these young YouTubers feed a growing demand for softer news related to daily life in their former home country.

Their rise comes amid increased public attention to North Korea, whose young leader, Kim Jong Un, has made global headlines with a provocative run of weapons tests and high-stakes nuclear diplomacy with President Donald Trump.

“There are people who yearn for real scenes showing how people in North Korea live. There is a niche market for that,” said Jeon Young-sun, a research professor at Seoul’s Konkuk University. “Simply speaking, some people are curious about what beer North Koreans drink and what cookies they eat.”

US House passes bill giving pot businesses access to banking

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking, a measure that would clear up a longstanding headache for the industry.

The bill, called the SAFE Banking Act, passed 321-103 on the strength of near-unanimous support from Democrats and nearly half of Republicans. Its prospects in the Senate are uncertain, but supporters said the amount of Republican support in the House was a good sign.

“This is a sign the time has come for comprehensive cannabis reform,” said Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association. “The fact that we got almost half the Republicans is a huge sign we’re moving in the right direction toward sensible policies.”

Thirty-three states have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. But the federal prohibition on the drug has made it difficult for businesses in the multibillion-dollar industry to get bank accounts, loans and other financial services.

The bill would allow businesses legitimately operating under state laws to access loans, lines of credit and other banking services, while sheltering financial institutions from prosecution for handling marijuana-linked money.

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Domingo focus shifts to California, the last of his US shows

SAN FRANCISCO — With the Metropolitan Opera’s bombshell announcement that Plácido Domingo will not take the Met stage this week — and possibly ever again — the legendary singer’s only scheduled U.S. appearances are set for next year in California, including at the LA Opera, where he is general director and under investigation for sexual misconduct.

Three other companies — including the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera — already had removed Domingo from upcoming performances in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations published by The Associated Press . The Met’s decision came on the eve of Wednesday’s sold-out season opener of “Macbeth,” amid rising tensions inside the venerable institution and threats of protests planned for outside.

In a brief, carefully worded announcement Tuesday , the Met indicated that it had asked the famed tenor to step down, saying, “Plácido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately.” In his own statement to Met staff, Domingo said that at the age of 78 he was happy to have sung the title role of “Macbeth” in the dress rehearsal, “which I consider my last performance on the Met stage.”

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Domingo said in Tuesday’s statement, “I strongly dispute recent allegations made about me,” without providing any specifics.

For years, Domingo has been the opera world’s most bankable star, with the celebrity power to fill seats in an era of dwindling ticket sales. Over time, he has also widened his portfolio, becoming a prolific conductor and powerful administrator as the general director of two major American companies, first at Washington Opera and later at LA Opera, where he has held the post since 2003.

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