Canada weighs vaping after illnesses

TORONTO — The serious lung illness affecting hundreds of people in the U.S. who vaped cannabis-based oil is giving Canadian health officials pause as that country prepares to allow the sale of vaping products in its legal marijuana market.

No illnesses have yet been reported north of the border, but they are monitoring the situation closely, and British Columbia’s top health official says it’s just a matter of time before symptoms are reported in Canada.

Canada last year became the second nation — after the small South American country of Uruguay — to legalize and regulate marijuana, but legal sales of edible and vaping products are not due to begin until later this year. The illicit vape market in Canada is estimated to be worth about $1 billion, said Megan McCrae, board chair of the Cannabis Council of Canada, an industry group for licensed pot growers.

Families search for missing in Bahamas

MCLEAN’S TOWN, Bahamas — They scan social media, peer under rubble, or try to follow the smell of death in an attempt to find family and friends.

They search amid alarming reports that 1,300 people remain listed as missing nearly two weeks after Hurricane Dorian hit the northern Bahamas.

The government, which has put the official death toll at 50, has cautioned that the list is preliminary and many could be staying in shelters and just haven’t been able to connect with loved ones.

But fears are growing that many more died when the Category 5 storm slammed into the archipelago’s northern region with winds in excess of 185 mph and severe flooding that toppled concrete walls and cracked trees in half as Dorian battered the area for a day and a half.

Simone Biles’ brother pleads not guilty

CLEVELAND — The brother of Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in a shooting that left three men dead at a 2018 New Year’s Eve party in Cleveland.

Attorney Joseph Patituce entered the pleas for 24-year-old Tevin Biles-Thomas during a video arraignment Friday in Cuyahoga County. Biles-Thomas was indicted last month on charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault and perjury.

Bond was set at $1 million.

Authorities say gunfire broke out when a group of men arrived uninvited to the party. Nineteen-year-old DelVaunte Johnson, 21-year-old Toshaun Banks and 23-year-old DeVaughn Gibson were killed.

Patituce says Biles-Thomas maintains he’s innocent.

Documents sought in Big Tech probe

Lawmakers investigating the market dominance of Big Tech on Friday asked Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple for a broad range of documents, marking a step forward in Congress’ bipartisan probe of the companies.

Letters went out to the four companies from the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee on antitrust, which has been conducting a sweeping antitrust investigation of the companies and their impact on competition and consumers.

The lawmakers are seeking a detailed and broad range of documents related to the companies’ sprawling operations, including top executives’ internal communications.

Democracy protests continue in Hong Kong

HONG KONG — Thousands of Hong Kong people carried lanterns with pro-democracy messages and formed human chains on two of the city’s peaks during mid-autumn festival celebrations Friday night, sustaining months-long protests for democratic reforms in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Activists and ordinary citizens climbed atop Lion Rock and Victoria Peak, two of the city’s popular hills, flashing lights to illuminate human chains around the ridges. Activists unfurled a long black banner at Lion Rock calling for democratic elections.

Thousands of others gathered at public parks, the harbor front and malls, forming links, chanting slogans and singing protest songs. Many wrote messages calling for more democracy on paper lanterns.

The demonstrations, which began in June over an extradition bill that the government has now agreed to withdraw, are expected to continue because protesters have widened their demands to include direct elections for their leaders and police accountability.

Latin American envoy has long experience

BOGOTA, Colombia — The new acting head of U.S. diplomacy toward Latin America is a seasoned envoy who once floated the idea of going into Chile unilaterally to snatch a politically powerful general who was behind the murder of a leftist politician in Washington in the 1970s.

The State Department announced Thursday that Michael Kozak will take over responsibility for the Western Hemisphere department a month after Kimberly Breier resigned.

The appointment suggests the U.S. will continue to pursue a hard line against socialist Venezuela, even after President Donald Trump fired hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, saying there were strong disagreements over Iran, Afghanistan and a cascade of other global challenges.

Kozak has been deputy to Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy on Venezuela, and played a major role in shaping U.S. policy on Venezuela this year.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, said that throughout his long career focused mainly on Latin America Kozak has earned a reputation as a strategic thinker and forceful doer.

Johnson, Juncker to meet next week

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will hold talks next week to try to break the Brexit impasse as both sides seek to avert what could be a disastrous “no-deal” departure.

“There is the rough shape of the deal to be done,” Johnson said Friday.

“I would say I’m cautiously optimistic” that a new agreement can be forged, even as officials warned against expecting any sudden breakthrough Monday.

Juncker told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio in an interview to be broadcast Sunday that he was hoping for some alternative proposals but wasn’t optimistic at resolving the stalemate.

Johnson, who traveled to the English town of Rotherham, was interrupted during a speech by a hackler angry at his legally questionable decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks during the crucial period leading up to the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The Associated Press

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