AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

More than 300 at wake for 2 nuns killed in Mississippi

DURANT, Miss. (AP) — More than 300 people came to a small church Sunday evening to say farewell to two nuns killed in their Mississippi home, even though more than half had to watch the service called vigil for the deceased on a monitor outside.

A funeral Mass for Sisters Margaret Held and Paula Merrill, both 68, will be celebrated Monday at the cathedral in Jackson, even as authorities continue to investigate the harrowing crime.

About 145 people filled St. Thomas Church in Lexington, where the nuns led Bible study. A monitor was placed outside where another 160 people sat on folding chairs and others stood to watch the service led by Bishop Joseph Kopacz of the Jackson Diocese.

The church’s priest, the Rev. Gregory Plata, spoke about how far-reaching the nuns’ work was, and how much they’ll be missed.

They worked in a clinic for the poor in Lexington, about 10 miles from their home in Durant.


Wednesday speech could clarify Trump’s immigration policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced he’ll be making a speech on illegal immigration on Wednesday in Arizona, after a week of speculation that he might be softening his hard-line promise to deport 11 million people living in the United States illegally.

The speech, posted in a Tweet late Sunday, was initially set for last week in Colorado, but was pushed back as Trump and his team wrestled over the details of what he would propose. There has been debate within his campaign about immigrants who haven’t committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses.

The candidate’s shifting stance hasn’t made it easy for top supporters and advisers, from his running mate on down, to defend him or explain some campaign positions. Across the Sunday news shows, a parade of Trump stand-ins, led by vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, couldn’t say whether Trump was sticking with or changing a central promise to use a “deportation force” to expel immigrants here illegally. And they didn’t bother defending his initial response Saturday to the killing of a mother as she walked her baby on a Chicago street.

Questioned on whether leaving key details on immigration policy unclear so late in the election is a problem, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus demurred: “I just don’t speak for Donald Trump.”

It was a striking look at Trump’s leadership of a team he had said would help drive him to victory in the Nov. 8 election.


Italy probes whether negligence played role in quake toll

AMATRICE, Italy (AP) — Italian authorities are vowing to investigate whether negligence or fraud in adhering to building codes played a role in the high death toll in last week’s earthquake in Italy.

They also called for efforts to ensure organized crime doesn’t infiltrate lucrative construction contracts to eventually rebuild much of the picturesque towns leveled in the disaster.

Meanwhile, rescue workers pressed on with the task of recovering bodies from the rubble, with hopes of finding any more survivors virtually vanished more than four full days after the powerful quake.

Over the past two days, they found six more bodies in the rubble of Hotel Roma in Amatrice, the medieval hill town in mountainous central Italy that bore the brunt of destruction and loss of life in the powerful quake. They recovered three and by late Sunday were still working to retrieve others that were hard to reach.

It wasn’t clear if those six were included in the overall 290 death toll given by authorities. The Civil Protection agency, which combines the figures it receives from different provinces affected by the quake, said the number is lower than the previous toll of 291 dead due to a correction in the numbers from the province of Rieti, where most of the victims died.


10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:


It’s part of a determined campaign by Ankara to push the Kurdish-led militants east of the Euphrates River.


The health care law is troubled by double-digit premium increases and exits by big-name insurers.


Turkey-backed rebels expel Kurdish forces from Syrian towns

BEIRUT (AP) — Rebels backed by Turkey made major gains Sunday in northern Syria, expelling Kurdish-led forces from towns and villages as part of a determined campaign by Ankara to push the militants east of the Euphrates River.

At least 35 civilians were killed, according to activists. The dramatic escalation of Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian civil war last week aimed to help the Syrian rebels drive the Islamic State group out of the border town of Jarablus. But it also is aimed at U.S.-allied Kurdish forces that have gained control in recent months of most of the territory along the Turkey-Syria border.

The fighting pits Turkey, a NATO ally, against a U.S.-backed proxy that is the most effective ground force battling IS militants in Syria in the 5-year-old civil war. It leaves Washington in the tough spot of having to choose between its two of its allied forces, and is likely to divert resources from the fight against IS.

A Turkish soldier was killed by a Kurdish rocket attack late Saturday, the first such fatality in Turkey’s ground offensive dubbed Euphrates Shield that began Aug. 24.

Speaking at a rally in the border town of Gaziantep, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his military is committed to fighting terrorism in Syria and Iraq.


2 dead, 36 hurt after bus hits fire truck, more vehicles

LAPLACE, La. (AP) — A bus full of construction workers hit a firetruck on an elevated highway Sunday, killing two people and injuring 36, several of them seriously, Louisiana State Police said.

The ladder truck from St. John the Baptist Parish, west of New Orleans, had parked across the right lane of Interstate 10 to block traffic while police investigated an earlier wreck involving a pickup truck that had skidded on the wet road, crashing into both guardrails about 6:40 a.m., Trooper Melissa Matey said.

The 2002 Eldorado National party bus hit the fire truck and then rear-ended a 2012 Toyota Camry, pushing it into a flatbed trailer being towed by a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado, Matey said. She said the bus then veered behind the fire truck and into the first pickup truck, a 2005 Nissan Titan. It also knocked three firefighters, who were standing near the guard rail, into the water 30 to 40 feet below.

Matey said the wreck killed Jermaine Starr, 21, of Moss Point, Mississippi, a back-seat passenger in the Camry, and St. John the Baptist Parish district Fire Chief Spencer Chauvin. The injured included the other two firefighters, the bus driver, 24 bus passengers and a total of nine people in the car and pickups.

Firefighter Nicholas Saale, 32, of Ponchatoula, and Camry passenger Vontravous Kelly of Moss Point, Mississippi, are in critical condition, she said. The Camry’s other two occupants, driver Marcus Tate, 35, and David Jones, both of Moss Point, are in serious condition.


Scientists exit Hawaii dome after yearlong Mars simulation

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Six scientists have completed a yearlong Mars simulation in Hawaii, where they lived in a dome in near isolation.

For the past year, the group in the dome on a Mauna Loa mountain could go outside only while wearing spacesuits.

On Sunday, the simulation ended, and the scientists emerged.

Cyprien Verseux, a crew member from France, said the simulation shows a mission to Mars can succeed.

“I can give you my personal impression which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic. I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome,” Verseux said.


Visitor misbehavior abounds as US parks agency turns 100

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Tourist John Gleason crept through the grass, four small children close behind, inching toward a bull elk with antlers like small trees at the edge of a meadow in Yellowstone National Park.

“They’re going to give me a heart attack,” said Gleason’s mother-in-law, Barbara Henry, as the group came within about a dozen yards of the massive animal.

The elk’s ears then pricked up, and it eyed the children and Washington state man before leaping up a hillside. Other tourists — likewise ignoring rules to keep 25 yards from wildlife — picked up the pursuit, snapping pictures as they pressed forward and forced the animal into headlong retreat.

Record visitor numbers at the nation’s first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone’s storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.

Law enforcement records obtained by The Associated Press suggest such problems are on the rise at the park, offering a stark illustration of the pressures facing some of America’s most treasured lands as the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary.


FARC sets permanent cease-fire under Colombia peace deal

HAVANA (AP) — The commander of Colombia’s biggest rebel movement said Sunday its fighters will permanently cease hostilities with the government beginning with the first minute of Monday, as a result of their peace accord ending one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.

Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, made the announcement in Havana, where the two sides negotiated for four years before announcing the peace deal Wednesday.

“Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war,” said Londono, who also known as Timochenko. “All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Friday that his military would cease attacks on the FARC beginning Monday.

Colombia is expected to hold a national referendum Oct. 2 to give voters the chance to approve the deal for ending a half-century of political violence that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and driven more than 5 million people from their homes


Beyonce slays at MTV VMAs with 16-minute performance

NEW YORK (AP) — Beyonce owned the MTV Video Music Awards — like she did in 2014 — with a 16-minute performance featuring her recent hits from “Lemonade,” working various stages with strong, layered vocals, skilled dance moves and even an outfit change — all as the audience watched in awe and cheered her on.

Queen B kicked of her strong set with “Pray You Catch Me” as blue lights beamed onstage. She was wearing white, but later stripped down to a black leotard with full sleeves as she sang “Hold Up” and “Sorry.” She grew angry and twerked while performing “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and ended with the anthemic “Formation.”

“If y’all came to slay, sing along with me,” she said.

The audience at Madison Square Garden watched intensely Sunday, at times recording the performance with their phones.

It was reminiscent of the 2014 VMAs, when Beyonce also performed for 16 minutes and accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. This year it is being awarded to Rihanna, who is splitting up her performances throughout the night.

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