Stymied police seek help in uncovering Vegas gunman's motive
LAS VEGAS (AP) — After five days of scouring the life of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock and chasing 1,000 leads, investigators confessed Friday they still don't know what drove him to mass murder, and they announced plans to put up billboards appealing for the public's help.
In their effort to find any hint of his motive, investigators were looking into whether he was with a prostitute days before the shooting, scrutinizing cruises he took and trying to make sense of a cryptic note with numbers jotted on it found in his hotel room, a federal official said.
So far, examinations of Paddock's politics, finances, any possible radicalization and his social behavior — typical investigative avenues that have helped uncover the motive in past shootings — have turned up little.
"We still do not have a clear motive or reason why," Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said. "We have looked at literally everything."
The FBI announced that billboards would go up around the city asking anyone with information to phone 800-CALL-FBI.
A casino regular, quiet but prickly, unleashes a rampage
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Stephen Paddock usually kept a cigar at hand, even though he didn't smoke. But he was quick to notice when somebody sat down beside him and lit up.
Then Paddock, a denizen of hazy casinos, would take out his cigar, light it and carefully aim its smoke back into the faces of those whose puffing annoyed him.
"He was the king of microaggression," his brother, Eric, said.
Last week, Stephen Paddock returned to the Las Vegas Strip, where he spent many hours and thousands of dollars at high-limit video poker machines, and eyed the fun-seekers crowding his oasis. But this time he did so from a 32nd floor casino hotel suite. Then he smashed open a pair of windows with a hammer and opened fire with a carefully assembled arsenal, murdering 58 fans gathered at an outdoor country music concert and injuring 500 more before killing himself.
Investigators and those who knew the 64-year-old former accountant and real estate investor say they cannot fathom what drove him to slaughter. Authorities, who have been trying to track Paddock's movements before the massacre, say there is evidence he also scoped out recent music festivals in Chicago and Boston. So far, though, they say there is no indication that any one incident or grievance turned the sometimes prickly high-stakes gambler into an executioner.
Trump's one-two punch hits birth control, LGBT rights
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a one-two punch elating religious conservatives, President Donald Trump's administration is allowing more employers to opt out of no-cost birth control for workers and issuing sweeping religious-freedom directions that could override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and others.
At a time when Trump finds himself embattled on many fronts, the two directives — issued almost simultaneously on Friday — demonstrated the president's eagerness to retain the loyalty of social conservatives who make up a key part of his base. Leaders of that constituency were exultant.
"President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Liberal advocacy groups, including those supporting LGBT and reproductive rights, were outraged.
"The Trump administration is saying to employers, 'If you want to discriminate, we have your back,'" said Fatima Goss Graves, president of National Women's Law Center.
US states declare emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Nate
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Nate gained force as it sped toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Friday after drenching Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 21 deaths. Forecasters said it was likely to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane over the weekend.
Louisiana and Mississippi officials declared states of state of emergency and Louisiana ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of its expected landfall Saturday night or early Sunday. Evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.
Mississippi's government said it would open 11 evacuation shelters in areas away from the immediate coast, with buses available for people who can't drive.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Nate could raise sea levels by 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 meters) from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border. It had already had caused deadly flooding in much of Central America.
The center added metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain to its latest hurricane warning.
US back on track for World Cup, Pulisic leads rout of Panama
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Teenage star Christian Pulisic scored with a brilliant touch to complete a field-length attack just eight minutes in, then split the defense with a pass that set up Jozy Altidore for the first of the forward's two goals and put the United States back on track for next year's World Cup with a 4-0 rout of Panama on Friday night.
Pulisic fed Altidore for a 2-0 lead in the 19th. Altidore converted a penalty kick with a chip in the 43rd after Bobby Wood was fouled, and Wood added a goal in the 63rd.
The U.S. ended a three-match winless streak in qualifying and with 12 points and moved two points ahead of Panama into third place — the last automatic berth — in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Honduras has nine points going into its match Saturday at Costa Rica, which is second with 15.
Goal difference means the Americans put themselves in great shape to reach an eighth straight World Cup, almost certainly with a win Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago and likely with a draw if Honduras fails to win Saturday. The U.S. is plus-five to minus-two for Panama and minus-seven for Honduras.
The region's fourth-place team advances to a playoff next month against Australia or Syria.
Weinstein on 'indefinite leave' during harassment inquiry
NEW YORK (AP) — Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is on indefinite leave from the company he co-founded while an internal investigation into numerous sexual harassment allegations against him is completed, The Weinstein Co.'s board of directors announced Friday.
"We strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein's already announced decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Company, commencing today," the board said in a statement. "As Harvey has said, it is important for him to get the professional help for the problems he has acknowledged. Next steps will depend on Harvey's therapeutic process, the outcome of the board's independent investigation and Harvey's own personal decisions."
The announcement came a day after The New York Times reported that the co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. has over the years reached at least eight legal settlements with women over alleged harassment.
Attorney John Kiernan of the firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP was named the head of the investigation. The Weinstein Co. board did not give a time frame for when the investigation would be completed.
"We believe it is important to learn the full truth regarding the article's very serious accusations, in the interests of the Company, its shareholders and its employees," the company said. The statement was signed by four board members: co-chairman Bob Weinstein, who is Harvey Weinstein's brother, Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov and Richard Koenigsberg.
AP-NORC Poll: Just 24 percent say US heading right direction
WASHINGTON (AP) — Just 24 percent of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction after a tumultuous stretch for President Donald Trump that included the threat of war with North Korea, stormy complaints about hurricane relief and Trump's equivocating about white supremacists. That's a 10-point drop since June, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The decline in optimism about the nation's trajectory is particularly pronounced among Republicans. In June, 60 percent of Republicans said the country was headed in the right direction; now it's just 44 percent.
The broader picture for the president is grim, too. Nearly 70 percent of Americans say Trump isn't level-headed, and majorities say he's not honest or a strong leader. More than 60 percent disapprove of how he is handling race relations, foreign policy and immigration, among other issues.
Overall, 67 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing in office, including about one-third of Republicans.
Tracy Huelsman, a 40-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, is among them. A self-described moderate Republican, Huelsman said she's particularly concerned about the "divisiveness" she feels the president promotes on social media.
Analysis: Nobel says to Korea nuke players: We are watching
BANGKOK (AP) — They couldn't award it to Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump. That much was certain.
But the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons opened itself to a clear interpretation across Asia: When it comes to the nuclear-saturated war of words on the Korean Peninsula, attention must be paid and treaties must be signed. And it must be done in a preventative way, at top speed, before something happens that can't be undone.
Looming in the background of the award announcement Friday was the sometimes scalding, sometimes tepid, never silent geopolitical scuffle this year between the young leader of the third-generation Pyongyang regime and the always voluble president of the United States.
Even the Nobel committee's language keyed in on that. It sounded like a plaintive cry to push parties to the negotiating table — to fix something that's already cracked before it's completely, irreversibly shattered.
The head of the group listed an assortment of the world's nuclear nations when she spoke after the win. But it was easy to find significance in the two she mentioned before all others — North Korea and the United States.
In Pacific, rising tensions evoke troubling nuclear legacy
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — As a young boy growing up on Bikini Atoll, Alson Kelen spent idyllic days playing on the beach and fishing.
His grandfather built canoes and his father tended the land. With fewer than 150 people on the remote Pacific island it was a close community, he says, with few signs of the former U.S. nuclear testing program other than the concrete bunkers he was told to avoid and the sunken ships in the lagoon.
But in 1978, when Kelen was 10, officials evacuated everybody. It turned out they'd been premature in declaring the Marshall Islands atoll safe again for humans. Radiation levels were still dangerously high.
More than 70 years after the first tests, the atoll remains contaminated today. It's part of a troubling nuclear legacy that continues to affect islands and people across the Pacific long after the U.S., Britain and France stopped their testing programs there.
As nuclear tensions rise in the Asia-Pacific region, Kelen and others are reflecting on that legacy anew.
Ham for a watch: Venezuelans struggle with cash shortages
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelans already struggling to find food, medicine and other basic necessities have a new shortage to worry about: cash.
Troubling shortfalls of Venezuelan bolivars are forcing many in this distressed South American nation to form long lines outside banks several times a week to withdraw what little cash is available. Others are resorting to bartering goods and services to skirt cash transactions.
"As if we didn't have enough problems already," said Roberto Granadillo, 37, a watchmaker. "Now we can't even find bills."
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blames the cash crunch on mafias moving bills overseas in an attempt to derail the nation's economy, though he's presented only scant evidence to back the claim. What is certain is that the country's triple-digit inflation continues to skyrocket, meaning Venezuelans must find larger quantities of the scarce bills to purchase even relatively inexpensive items like bread or a cup of coffee — or turn to electronic transfers from their bank accounts.
The Venezuelan government released new, higher denomination bills in values of 500, 5,000 and 20,000 bolivars earlier this year after the currency meltdown left the country's then-largest note worth around 2 U.S. cents on the black market.