- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rewriting history: DNA testing proves President Warren Harding fathered a child out of wedlock

WASHINGTON (AP) - DNA testing all but confirmed Thomas Jefferson slept with his slave Sally Hemings. Now it’s rewriting another lurid chapter in presidential history, this one from the Roaring ‘20s.

Genetic analysis has proved that President Warren G. Harding fathered a child with long-rumored mistress Nan Britton, according to AncestryDNA, a DNA-testing division of Ancestry.com.

Britton set off a Jazz Age sex scandal when she went public with her tale of forbidden love in the White House, boldly publishing her story in a 1927 best-selling memoir, “The President’s Daughter.” But historians long questioned her claims, and Harding defenders vilified her as a liar for nearly 90 years.

Based on DNA from Britton’s grandson and descendants of Harding, the results are 99.9 percent certain, Ancestry.com said. The findings were first reported Thursday by The New York Times.

The child born of their union, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, was the only known offspring of the 29th president. She died in 2005. Britton died in 1991.

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Truck bomb at Baghdad produce market kills 67; Islamic State group claims responsibility

BAGHDAD (AP) - In one of the deadliest single attacks in postwar Baghdad, a truck bomb shattered a popular fruit-and-vegetable market in a teeming Shiite neighborhood Thursday, killing 67 people and wounding more than 150 others.

Militants from the self-described Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing that incinerated much of the Jameela market in the district of Sadr City. The dead and wounded were carried away in blood-soaked blankets and garbage bags amid the charred and twisted stalls and spilled produce.

The Sunni extremist group, which holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria, said it targeted a gathering place for Shiites and vowed more attacks. It often attacks military checkpoints or predominantly Shiite areas with the goal of undermining confidence in the government’s security efforts.

When it launched its major onslaught across northern Iraq last year, the Islamic State group vowed to continue on to Baghdad, but a mobilization of volunteer Shiite fighters deterred any significant attacks on the capital at that time.

For the past two weeks, thousands of Iraqis have staged protests calling on the government to take a firm stance against corruption and reckless spending. Many see the corruption in the security forces as a major cause for its failures.

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Croatia says hostage in Egypt was abducted by criminals who demanded ransom, then handed to IS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - The alleged beheading of a Croatian hostage in Egypt took a sinister new turn Thursday with the revelation that a criminal gang kidnapped him, then demanded a ransom from his employer before turning him over to the Islamic State group.

The French geoscience company that the 30-year-old oil and gas surveyor worked for said it tried in vain to contact his abductors after receiving their emailed demand for cash.

The kidnapping and apparent beheading of Tomislav Salopek, who was snatched in broad daylight on the outskirts of Cairo, is the first of its kind involving a foreigner in Egypt. It is sure to deal a blow to the government’s efforts to project stability and buttress an economic turnaround following years of unrest in the wake of Egypt’s Arab Spring.

It will also likely rattle companies with expatriate workers in Egypt and cast a cloud over hopes of boosting international investment in the country.

Christophe Barnini, the chief spokesman for Salopek’s employer, CGG Ardiseis, said the company received an email with a ransom demand eight days after his July 22 kidnapping, but it included no contact number and multiple responses to the address it came from went unanswered. The company’s emails asked for proof of life and included a telephone number for the kidnappers to contact, Barnini said, adding that CGG was acting on directives from Croatian and Egyptian authorities.

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Death toll reaches 50, with dozens missing, after warehouse blasts in China’s port of Tianjin

TIANJIN, China (AP) - The death toll from the fiery explosions at a warehouse of hazardous chemicals climbed Thursday to 50, and the Chinese government sent experts to the shattered and smoldering port to assess any environmental dangers from the spectacular blasts.

More than 700 people were injured and dozens were reported missing in the explosions shortly before midnight Wednesday that demolished a workers’ dormitory, tossed shipping containers as if they were toy blocks and turned a fleet of 1,000 new cars into scorched metal husks. Windows were shattered for miles around by the shockwaves.

There was no indication of what caused the disaster in one of China’s busiest ports, and authorities tried to keep a tight rein over information by keeping reporters well away from the site. Social media users complained their posts about it were deleted.

More than 1,000 firefighters were sent to the mostly industrial zone in Tianjin, a petrochemical processing hub about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Beijing.

Tianjin is the 10th largest port in the world by container volume, according to the World Shipping Council, and the seventh-biggest in China. It handles vast amounts of metal ore, coal, steel, cars and crude oil.

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AP staffers: Bombing was just the latest tribulation in Sadr City’s history of ordeals

BAGHDAD (AP) - In this torrid Baghdad summer, Karim Kadim, his wife and five children have been sleeping in their living room, where the air conditioning works best and often muffles noise from the street. But nothing could drown out the thunderclap that roused the family about 5:45 a.m. Thursday.

Even Kadim’s son Hussein, who takes out his hearing aid when he goes to bed, was awakened by the explosion.

Kadim, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for The Associated Press, raced to the roof to see what had happened. AP video cameraman Ali Abdul-Hassan Jabbar, who lives nearby, called to say that the explosion was at the Jameela Market - his own three children had been thrown from their beds by the blast. So Kadim threw on some clothes and raced for the door with his camera, as he has done so many times before.

“Baba, please don’t go! Baba, please don’t go!” cried his 3-year-old son, Abbas. “Even the little ones understand the dangers,” Kadim said.

Kadim and Jabbar both live not far from the market in Sadr City, where - for more than a decade - the comforts of home have been intertwined with horrors.

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Next steps for Jimmy Carter: Assessing location, extent of his cancer and potential treatments

ATLANTA (AP) - Surgery, drugs, radiation, comfort care. What’s next for Jimmy Carter depends on how widely his cancer has spread and where, and how aggressively the 90-year-old former president wants to fight it.

Carter said Wednesday that surgery on Aug. 3 to remove a mass in his liver revealed cancer that had spread to other parts of his body. He did not say whether the cancer started in his liver, or even if the origin is known. His father, brother and two sisters died of pancreatic cancer, and his mother had it, too.

“There is clearly a family history of cancer, but we don’t know if that plays a role in his current situation,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

WHAT’S NEXT?

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10 Things to See: A gallery of lasting moments chosen by our editors

Here’s your look at highlights from the AP photo report in the past week, a gallery featuring a mix of front-page photography, the odd image you might have missed and lasting moments our editors think you should see.

This week’s gallery includes images from the top of a popular sand dune in Peru, tourists swimming near the Suez Canal and flooding in Argentina.

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This gallery contains photos published Aug. 7 - Aug. 12, 2015.

See the latest AP photo galleries: http://apne.ws/TXeCBN

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EPA test results show Colorado mine spill unleashed highly toxic stew of heavy metals

SILVERTON, Colorado (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that surface-water testing revealed very high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals as a sickly-yellow plume of mine waste flowed through Colorado.

These metals far exceeded government exposure limits for aquatic life and humans in the hours after the August 5 spill, which sent 3 million gallons of wastewater through three Western states and the Navajo nation.

The EPA, which released the results after 2 a.m. Eastern time under increasing political pressure, said its analysis shows the heavy metals quickly returned to “pre-event levels” once the plume passed through the area it tested, on the Animas River between Silverton, Colorado, and the downstream municipal water intake for Durango.

The abandoned Gold King mine had been slowly leaking a toxic stew for decades before an EPA crew accidentally unleashed a torrent of waste during an Aug. 5 inspection. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has taken full responsibility and promised that the agency will pay for any damage.

The agency tested for 24 metals at the river’s surface. One of the most dangerous, lead, was found below the 14th Street bridge in Silverton at more than 200 times higher than the acute exposure limit for aquatic life, and 3,580 times higher than federal standards for human drinking water.

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FAA: Pilot reports of drone sightings more than double this year and the year’s not over

WASHINGTON (AP) - Pilot reports of drone sightings so far this year are more than double last year, government regulators say, raising concern about the potential for a deadly collision.

There have been more than 650 reports this year through Aug. 9 by pilots of drones flying near manned aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Thursday. There were 238 unmanned aircraft sightings in all of 2014.

The reports come from pilots of a variety of aircraft, including many large airliners. The concern is that if a drone collides with an aircraft engine, it could disable the engine much like birds do sometimes when they get chewed up by engines. Also, a high-speed collision with a drone might damage the surface of a plane, changing the airflows in a way that makes the plane difficult to maneuver.

There were 16 drone sightings reported in June 2014, and 36 the following month. This year, there were 138 reports from pilots flying up to 10,000 feet in altitude in June, and 137 reports in July.

Earlier this week, crews on four commercial flights spotted a drone while preparing to land at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. None of the pilots were required to make evasive maneuvers as a result of the sightings. The planes were between 2,000 and 3,000 feet in the air and 8 to 13 miles away from the airport.

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11-year-old gives birth in Paraguay; government had blocked abortion

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) - An 11-year-old Paraguayan girl who had been denied an abortion gave birth on Thursday, the culmination of a case that put a spotlight on child rape in the poor South American nation and drew criticism from human rights groups.

Elizabeth Torales, a lawyer for the girl’s mother, told The Associated Press that the minor gave birth to a baby girl via cesarean in a Red Cross hospital in Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital. Torales said that doctors told her there were no complications and both the mother and baby were resting. She said that her client, the daughter who gave birth and the girl’s grandmother had requested custody of the infant.

“The baby doesn’t yet have a name,” said Torales.

The girl was allegedly raped and impregnated by her stepfather when she was 10. The stepfather has been arrested and is awaiting trial. The girl’s mother has been charged with negligence.

The mother requested an abortion for her daughter, but the government refused to allow it, drawing praise from religious groups but criticism from many human rights organizations, including U.N. officials. Paraguay bans abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger. At the time, the girl was five months pregnant and local health officials said she appeared to be in fine health.

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