Monthly Archives: October 2018

    Robert Gregory Bowers llegó al tribunal federal menos de dos horas después de recibir el alta del hospital

    Por: AP

    El acusado de perpetrar la masacre en la sinagoga de Pittsburgh recibió el alta del hospital el lunes y fue entregado a las autoridades federales para una comparecencia judicial bajo cargos de matar a 11 personas en lo que se cree es el ataque a los judíos más mortífero de la historia de Estados Unidos.

    Robert Gregory Bowers, de 46 años, herido de bala en un tiroteo con la policía, llegó al tribunal federal en el centro de Pittsburgh menos de dos horas después de recibir el alta del Hospital General Allegheny, informó la policía judicial. Poco después se advirtió el arribo de un auto oficial con una silla de ruedas en el interior.

    Los fiscales federales iniciaron el proceso para pedir la pena de muerte para Bowers, quien según las autoridades expresó odio hacia los judíos durante los hechos y después dijo a la policía, “solo quiero matar judíos” y “todo estos judíos deben morir”.

    El primer funeral, el de los hermanos Cecil y David Rosenthal, está previsto para el martes.

    En tanto, los sobrevivientes empezaron a brindar relatos sobrecogedores de la matanza del sábado en la sinagoga Tree of Life.

    Barry Werber dijo que se ocultó en un armario oscuro mientras el agresor abría fuego en el edificio.

    “No sé por qué cree que los judíos son los responsables de todos los males del mundo, pero no es el primero ni será el último”, dijo Werber, de 76 años. “Desgraciadamente, es el peso que debemos sobrellevar”.

    La masacre, que tuvo lugar 10 días antes de las elecciones, elevó las tensiones en todo el país. El día anterior, un hombre en Florida fue arrestado y acusado de enviar explosivos por correo a varios críticos del presidente Donald Trump.

    Todas estas agresiones detonaron el debate sobre si la retórica incendiaria en Washington y más allá fomentan la violencia y si Trump tiene personalmente algo de culpa.

    En respuesta al ataque, una campaña llamada Musulmanes Unidos por la Sinagoga de Pittsburgh recaudó más de 95 mil dólares para los sobrevivientes y sus familias. Otra recolección de fondos dirigida por un estudiante en Washington había recaudado unos 545 mil dólares el lunes por la mañana.

    Bowers mató a ocho hombres y tres mujeres antes de que un equipo policial lo hirió de bala, dijeron las autoridades. Seis personas, incluidos cuatro agentes de policía, resultaron heridas.

    “Hay gran furia en nuestro País causada en parte por la comunicación imprecisa, incluso fraudulenta, de las noticias”, señala

    Por: AP

    El presidente Donald Trump acusó a la prensa el lunes de ser “el verdadero Enemigo del Pueblo” tras la masacre en una sinagoga y una conspiración con artefactos explosivos.

    Trump tuiteó el lunes: “Hay gran furia en nuestro País causada en parte por la comunicación imprecisa, incluso fraudulenta, de las noticias”. Dijo que la prensa “debe desistir de la abierta y evidente hostilidad e informar las noticias precisa e imparcialmente”.

    Estas declaraciones del presidente van a la zaga de la masacre en una sinagoga en Pittsburgh y el envío de artefactos explosivos a demócratas prominentes y el canal de noticias CNN. La violencia en víspera de las elecciones remeció a una nación dividida y dio lugar a cuestionamientos de si Trump no debería moderar su retórica.

    Trump condenó el ataque en Pittsburgh como acto antisemita y denunció la violencia política. Pero faltando ocho días para las elecciones legislativas, continúa realizando actos políticos en los que critica duramente a los demócratas y la prensa.

    En un acto el sábado por la noche, Trump estuvo moderado hasta cierto punto, pero no desistió de sus consabidos ataques a Hillary Clinton y esta vez a la legisladora Maxine Waters, ambas blancos de los explosivos. El domingo embistió contra el multimillonario Tom Steyer, también blanco de una bomba por correo.

    El arrestado en relación con las bombas, Cesar Sayoc, en un partidario fervoroso de Trump.

    La Casa Blanca ha respondido a la insinuación de que Trump debería torcer el rumbo. La asesora Kellyanne Conway dijo por CNN el lunes que Trump “trata de sanar el país”. Preguntada sobre las declaraciones de Trump desde la masacre, destacó las críticas de Waters y Steyer al presidente, quien busca la unidad, dijo.

    “El presidente no trata de llegar a su base mediante las denuncias del antisemitismo y pidiendo a todos que se eleven por encima del odio, es el presidente de todos los estadounidenses”, dijo Conway.

     

    FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

    (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell in a volatile session on Monday, with the benchmark S&P 500 index ending close to confirming its second correction of 2018, hurt by fresh worries about U.S.-China trade policy tensions and a sharp drop in the big technology and internet shares.

    Following a morning rally, major U.S. indexes pulled back steeply after a Bloomberg report that the U.S. is preparing to announce tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports by early December if talks next month between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping falter.

    “Obviously this trade skirmish is metastasizing potentially into something worse than it already is,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

    After the S&P 500 dropped more than 10 percent from its Sept. 20 record closing high during the session, the benchmark index pared its losses late to close down 9.9 percent from its peak. The Dow industrials also fell more than 10 percent from its Oct. 3 record close during the session, before ending down 8.9 percent from the mark.

    On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 245.39 points, or 0.99 percent, to 24,442.92, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 17.44 points, or 0.66 percent, to 2,641.25 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 116.92 points, or 1.63 percent, to 7,050.29.

    Major technology and growth stocks, such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), posted sharp declines. The S&P 500 technology sector .SPLRCT fell 1.8 percent.

    The so-called FANG growth stocks – Facebook (FB.O), Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet – have lost more than $200 billion in market value in the past two sessions.

    FANGs fall on hard times – tmsnrt.rs/2P1lsab

    The industrials sector .SPLRCI, which is seen as sensitive to trade issues, dropped 1.7 percent, with Boeing Co (BA.N) tumbling 6.6 percent.

    “The concern about global growth and global trade … continues to create an overhang for U.S. corporations and global equities,” said Chad Morganlander, senior portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors in Florham Park, New Jersey.

    “Growth stocks typically do poorly in situations of global growth decelerating,” he said. “You set yourself up for a more defensive market until there’s a clear sign that investors can grab hold of.”

    Market volatility has spiked in recent weeks, stemming from higher U.S. interest rates and worries about economic growth peaking and trade tensions. Investors also may be increasingly nervous about uncertainty surrounding U.S. congressional elections, now just a week away.

    “Probably the most pervasive headwind is concern about midterm elections,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco. “That is weighing down stocks, particularly technology as there is greater concern about regulation.”

    Internet stocks also may have been wounded by Britain’s plan to tax the revenue from online platforms.

    In corporate news, shares of software maker Red Hat Inc (RHT.N) surged 45.4 percent after the company agreed to be bought by IBM Corp (IBM.N) for $34 billion, but IBM shares fell 4.1 percent, weighing on the Dow and S&P.

    Investors who are bullish about stocks point to strong corporate profits this year and economic growth, but there are also concerns about the extent of a slowdown in earnings growth next year, while weak housing data has raised some worries about the consumer.

    Data on Monday showed U.S. consumer spending rose for a seventh consecutive month in September, but income recorded its smallest gain in more than a year amid moderate wage growth, suggesting the current pace of spending was unlikely to be sustained.

    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.45-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.45-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

    The S&P 500 posted three new 52-week highs and 65 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 23 new highs and 260 new lows.

    About 9.3 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, above the 8.5 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

     

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to postpone a trial set for Nov. 5 that will examine the legality of its decision to ask people taking part in the 2020 U.S. census whether they are citizens.

    The administration is asking for the trial to be placed on hold until the Supreme Court resolves a dispute over evidence, including whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, can be forced to answer questions about the politically charged decision.

    On Friday, Manhattan U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, who will preside over the trial, and a federal appeals court both refused to postpone the trial.

    Furman said a stay of the trial was not warranted and could hinder a final resolution of the case before the government begins printing the census forms next year.

    The lawsuit, brought by 18 states and a number of cities and counties, was spearheaded by Democratic officials. It is consolidated with another suit by several immigrant rights groups accusing the administration of discrimination against non-white immigrants.

    Critics of the citizenship question have said it will deter people in immigrant communities from participating in the census, disproportionately affecting Democratic-leaning states by undercounting the number of residents.

    The administration has said it needs the data to enforce a voting rights law as it relates to minority voters.

    Furman said in a Sept. 21 order that Ross must face a deposition by lawyers for the states because his “intent and credibility are directly at issue” in the lawsuit.

    Furman said there was doubt about Ross’ public statements that the Justice Department initiated the request to include the citizenship question and that he was not aware of any discussions with the White House about it.

    But on Oct. 22, the Supreme Court blocked Ross’ deposition and gave the administration until Monday to appeal the trial judge’s orders.

    The administration told the justices on Monday that there should be no trial into Ross’ motives for adding the citizenship question, including whether he harbored “secret racial animus” in doing so.

    “The harms to the government from such a proceeding are self-evident,” the government said.

    The U.S. Constitution mandates a census every 10 years. It is used in the allocation of seats in Congress and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds. A citizenship question has not appeared on the census since 1950.

    Police officers display counterfeit U.S. dollar bills during a news conference in Lima October 14, 2015. The National Police seized $836,000 in fake bills that had been packed in bags and backpacks destined for the city of New York in the United States, according to a police media release. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

    LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks slid lower on Friday and were set to post their worst weekly losing streak in more than five years, as anxiety over corporate profits added to fears about global trade and economic growth.

    European shares tracked U.S. stock futures lower after Alphabet and Amazon’s earnings missed expectations, further sapping risk appetite as European earnings also disappointed.

    The leading index of euro zone stocks fell 1.7 percent. Germany’s DAX was also down 1.7 percent and France’s CAC 40 down 2.1 percent.

    The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 1.3 percent.

    The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was down half a percent after trading began in Europe. It was set for its fifth straight week of losses, its worst losing streak since May 2013.

    “Expectations for U.S. company earnings are quite high, so whenever they are not being met, the reactions are quite severe,” said Miraji Othman, credit strategist at BayernLB.

    “We have grown used to solid numbers, 18 percent revenue growth, 25 percent revenue growth and so on. The valuations have become quite ambitious.”

    S&P E-mini futures slumped 1.2 percent and Nasdaq futures were down 2.2 percent, potentially setting up a rough session for U.S. markets.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped one percent, erasing gains made in the opening hour and hitting its lowest level since February 2017. The Chinese yuan slid past a key level, refocusing attention on slowing growth in the world’s second-biggest economy.

    The MSCI Asia index has been bruised by a sell-off in the past several days, and is on course for its fifth weekly loss – its longest losing streak since 2015. It has fallen more than four percent this week.

    Chinese shares were pulled lower and the yuan fell past 6.96 to the dollar, touching its weakest level against the dollar since December 2016.

    The blue-chip index lost 0.7 percent and the Shanghai Composite was 0.2 percent lower. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was 1.1 percent lower, with tech shares dropping 3.13 percent.

    Tech firms also fell in South Korea, where the broader market slid 1.75 percent. The Kospi had earlier touched its lowest level since December 2016.

    Australian shares ended flat. Japan’s Nikkei stock index closed 0.4 percent lower, ending the week down 5.98 percent.

    Financial markets have been whipsawed in recent sessions amid concern over global growth created by Sino-U.S. trade frictions, a mixed bag of U.S. corporate earnings, Federal Reserve rate increases and an Italian budget dispute.

    Bear markets – a price drop of 20 percent or more from recent peaks – have increased across indexes and individual stocks since the start of this year.

    “The first, and most important (worry) is that Fed tightening and fading fiscal stimulus will cause the US economy to take a turn for the worse … The second is that China’s economy will continue to struggle,” analysts at Capital Economics said in a note to clients.

    “As we have been arguing for a while now, these worries are likely to get worse over the next twelve months or so.”

    MIND THE GAP

    In currency markets, the euro fell after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank’s 2.6 trillion-euro ($2.96 trillion) asset purchase program would end this year and interest rates might rise after next summer, despite fears about the monetary union’s economic and political future.

    The single currency was 0.3 percent lower at $1.1345.

    The dollar was off 0.3 percent against the yen at 112.04. The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, was 0.1 percent higher at 96.788.

    Traders expect a strong reading of U.S. gross domestic product data on Friday, which could see the dollar strengthen.

    “Today’s robust U.S. GDP will illustrate to the market the deep division between the U.S. and the euro zone when it comes to growth performance,” said Commerzbank analyst Thu Lan Nguyen.

    The British pound fell to its lowest in two months against the dollar, as doubt grew about whether the UK and the European Union can clinch a Brexit deal. [GBP/]

    Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, reported on Friday that Brexit talks were on hold because Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet was not close enough to agreement on how to proceed.

    U.S. Treasury yields fell as equity markets plunged. The 10-year yield fell to 3.0849 percent compared with its U.S. close of 3.136 percent on Thursday.

    Oil prices headed for a third weekly loss after Saudi Arabia warned of oversupply and the slump in stock markets and concern about trade clouded the outlook for fuel demand. [O/R]

    U.S. crude dipped 1.37 percent to $66.43 a barrel. Brent crude fell 1.1 percent to $76.07 per barrel.

    Spot gold ticked up 0.3 percent to $1,235.52 per ounce.

    Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; additional reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan and Tom Finn in London; Editing by Larry King, William Maclean

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, denounced on Friday a U.S. decision to leave an arms control treaty that helped end the Cold War, saying it heralded a new arms race which increased the risk of nuclear conflict.

    President Donald Trump has said Washington plans to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty which Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signed in 1987. The pact eliminated all short- and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles held by both countries in Europe.

    Gorbachev, in a column for the New York Times newspaper, said the U.S. move was “a dire threat to peace” that he still hoped might be reversed through negotiations.

    “I am being asked whether I feel bitter watching the demise of what I worked so hard to achieve. But this is not a personal matter. Much more is at stake,” he wrote. “A new arms race has been announced.”

    Washington has cited Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty as its reason for leaving it, a charge Moscow denies. Russia in turn accuses Washington of breaking the pact.

    Stationing of U.S. land-based nuclear missiles in western Europe provoked mass protests in the 1980s. Some U.S. allies now fear Washington might deploy a new generation of them in Europe, with Russia doing the same in its exclave of Kaliningrad, once again turning the continent into a potential nuclear battlefield.

    If the United States made good on its pledge to leave the treaty, Gorbachev said he hoped that U.S. allies would refuse to be what he called launchpads for American missiles which Trump has spoken of developing.

    President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would be forced to target any European countries that agreed to host U.S. missiles.

    Gorbachev, 87, said that any disputes about compliance could be solved if there were sufficient political will.

    It was clear, however, that Trump’s aim was to release the United States from global constraints, he said, accusing Washington of destroying the “system of international treaties and accords” that underpinned peace and security after World War Two.

    “Yet I am convinced that those who hope to benefit from a global free-for-all are deeply mistaken. There will be no winner in a ‘war of all against all’ — particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. An unrelenting arms race, international tensions, hostility and universal mistrust will only increase the risk.”

    U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb, Pool - RC1581BF52B0

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. withdrawal from a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty with Russia could give the Pentagon new options to counter Chinese missile advances but experts warn the ensuing arms race could greatly escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific.

    U.S. officials have been warning for years that the United States was being put at a disadvantage by China’s development of increasingly sophisticated land-based missile forces, which the Pentagon could not match thanks to the U.S. treaty with Russia.

    President Donald Trump has signaled he may soon give the Pentagon a freer hand to confront those advances, if he makes good on threats to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which required elimination of short- and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles.

    Dan Blumenthal, a former Pentagon official now at the American Enterprise Institute, said a treaty pullout could pave the way for the United States to field easier-to-hide, road-mobile conventional missiles in places like Guam and Japan.

    That would make it harder for China to consider a conventional first strike against U.S. ships and bases in the region. It could also force Beijing into a costly arms race, forcing China to spend more on missile defenses.

    “It will change the picture fundamentally,” Blumenthal said.

    Even as Trump has blamed Russian violations of the treaty for his decision, he has also pointed a finger at China. Beijing was not party to the INF treaty and has been fielding new and more deadly missile forces.

    These include China’s DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which has a maximum range of 4,000 km (2,500 miles) and which the Pentagon says can threaten U.S. land and sea-based forces as far away as the Pacific island of Guam. It was first fielded in 2016.

    “If Russia is doing it (developing these missiles) and China is doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” Trump said on Sunday.

    John Bolton, White House national security advisor, noted that recent Chinese statements suggest it wanted Washington to stay in the treaty.

    “And that’s perfectly understandable. If I were Chinese, I would say the same thing,” he told the Echo Moskvy radio station. “Why not have the Americans bound, and the Chinese not bound?”

    GROWING THREAT

    U.S. officials have so far relied on other capabilities as a counter-balance to China, like missiles fired from U.S. ships or aircraft. But advocates for a U.S. land-based missile response say that is the best way to deter Chinese use of its muscular land-based missile forces.

    Kelly Magsamen, who helped craft the Pentagon’s Asian policy under the Obama administration, said China’s ability to work outside of the INF treaty had vexed policymakers in Washington, long before Trump came into office.

    But she cautioned that any new U.S. policy guiding missile deployments in Asia would need to be carefully coordinated with allies, something that does not appear to have happened yet.

    Mismanagement of expectations surrounding a U.S. treaty pullout could also unsettle security in the Asia-Pacific, she cautioned.

    “It’s potentially destabilizing,” she said.

    Experts warn that China would put pressure on countries in the region to refuse U.S. requests to position missiles there.

    Abraham Denmark, a former senior Pentagon official under Obama, said Guam, Japan and even Australia were possible locations for U.S. missile deployments.

    “But there are a lot of alliance questions that appear at first glance to be very tricky,” he cautioned.

    Still, current and former U.S. officials say Washington is right to focus on China’s missile threat. Harry Harris, who led U.S. military forces in the Pacific before becoming U.S. ambassador to Seoul, said earlier this year that the United States was at a disadvantage.

    “We have no ground-based (missile) capability that can threaten China because of, among other things, our rigid adherence … to the treaty,” Harris told a Senate hearing in March, without calling for the treaty to be scrapped.

    Asked about Trump’s comments, China’s foreign ministry said a unilateral U.S. withdrawal would have a negative impact and urged the United States to “think thrice before acting.”

    “Talking about China on the issue of unilaterally pulling out of the treaty is completely mistaken,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

    Reporting by Phil Stewart; additional reporting by Idrees Ali, David Brunnstrom and Eric Beech; Editing by James Dalgleish

    ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday there were strong signs Jamal Khashoggi’s “savage” killing was planned and attempts to blame it on intelligence operatives – Riyadh has suggested it was a rogue operation — “will not satisfy us”.

    In a speech to parliament, Erdogan did not mention Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who some U.S. lawmakers suspect ordered the killing. But he said Turkey would not complete its investigation into Khashoggi’s death until all questions were answered.

    “Intelligence and security institutions have evidence showing the murder was planned…. Pinning such a case on some security and intelligence members will not satisfy us or the international community,” he said.

    Erdogan said the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body were still unknown and he demanded Saudi Arabia reveal the identity of a “local cooperator” who purportedly took the body.

    Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the crown prince, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, disappeared three weeks ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

    Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents.

    Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting the killing of the 59-year-old. Erdogan made no reference to any audio recording in his speech.

    Riyadh initially denied knowledge of his fate before saying he was killed in a fight in the consulate. That version of events was greeted skeptically by several Western governments, straining relations with the world’s biggest oil exporter.

    Erdogan said three operatives arrived in Istanbul the day before his killing on an apparent reconnaissance mission.

    The next day 15 people came to the consulate.

    “Why did these 15 people meet in Istanbul on the day of the murder? We are seeking answers to this. Who are these people receiving orders from?” Erdogan said.

    Following the global outrage prompted by the journalist’s disappearance, U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments have varied from playing down Riyadh’s role to warning of possible economic sanctions.

    Trump has also repeatedly highlighted the kingdom’s importance as a U.S. ally and said Prince Mohammed was a strong and passionate leader.

    For Saudi Arabia’s allies, the question will be whether they believe that Prince Mohammed, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability. King Salman, 82, has handed the day-to-day running of Saudi Arabia to the 33-year-old prince.

     

    Signs display the jackpots for Tuesday's Mega Millions and Wednesday's Powerball lottery drawings in New York City, U.S., October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A record-setting $1.6 billion prize that would instantly make a single winner one of the richest people in the world will be up for grabs on Tuesday when the Mega Millions holds its drawing.

    The drawing will be held at 11 p.m. EDT.

    Anyone who hits all six numbers to win the jackpot can choose an immediate cash payment of $904 million or receive the $1.6 billion prize over 29 years.

    The Mega Millions jackpot, along with a Powerball lottery prize that stands at $620 million, has caused lotto fever to sweep across the U.S. over the last few days.

    “I’ll never win, but you gotta give it a shot,” Hank Kattan, 75, said in Manhattan on Monday. “I’d like to change my way of life.”

    Mega Millions set a record for lottery jackpots after nobody won the $1 billion prize on Friday. The previous record was a $1.586 billion jackpot for a Powerball drawing in 2016.

    Lottery players face odds of 1 in 303 million of winning the Mega Millions drawing. In comparison, the odds of getting killed by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million in a lifetime, according to the International Shark Attack File.

    Tickets sold for Tuesday’s drawing are expected to cover 75 percent of all possible number combinations, he said.

    Wednesday’s Powerball lottery prize stands at $620 million, making it the fifth-largest jackpot in U.S. history, after no one got all six numbers in Saturday’s drawing. The lump sum cash payout is estimated at $354.3 million.

    If more than one person wins, the jackpots would be divided proportionately, as happened in 2012 with a Mega Millions jackpot of $656 million, a lottery official said.

    Mega Millions tickets are sold in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Several states allow online ticket purchases, but they prohibit out-of-state and foreign purchases.

    Both lottery jackpots have been increased recently by rule changes that have reduced the chances of winning. The odds of winning Mega Millions were raised a year ago from 1 in 259 million to generate larger prizes.

    Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, editing by Larry King

     

      This image provided by NOAA on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, shows Hurricane Willa in the eastern Pacific, on a path to smash into Mexico's western coast. (NOAA via AP)

      (Mexico) -Thousands of people were evacuated, buildings boarded up and classes canceled on Mexico’s Pacific coast as Hurricane Willa threatened to batter tourist resorts with high winds and heavy rains on Tuesday.

      Residents on Monday night sealed off windows and doors with large wooden planks on hotels facing the historic downtown boardwalk of Mazatlan, a popular coastal city in the state of Sinaloa, as tourists strolled nearby and palm trees swayed in a light breeze.

      Forecast to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to enter Mexico from the Pacific in recent years, Willa is expected to strike a few miles south of Mazatlan as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

      At a gas station on the city’s outskirts, a steady line of cars queued up to refuel and shop at the neighboring convenience store.

      Station attendant Zulema Pardo said residents had been streaming through for hours to stock up on basic items, buying enormous jugs of water and gasoline, and leaving the bread shelf completely empty.

      “People are really scared,” she said. “People are crazy and worked up.”

      Late on Monday the storm was advancing about 80 miles (130 km) west of Las Islas Marias islands opposite Nayarit, the state south of Sinaloa, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).

      Several other tourist getaways in Nayarit, as well as the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco state, also lie near the path of the storm, which is forecast to bring a “life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall,” the NHC said.

      Willa, which was a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was blowing maximum sustained winds of near 140 miles per hour (225 kph) on Monday night with higher gusts, the NHC said.

      Headed northward, Willa is forecast to weaken after hitting the coast, the hurricane center said.

      Antonio Echevarria, governor of Nayarit, said more than 10,000 people were being evacuated and schools would be closed. He warned locals not to defy the storm.

      “Let’s not play the macho. Let’s not act like superheroes,” he said. “It’s a very strong hurricane, very potent, and we don’t want any tragedies.”

      Sinaloa also canceled classes in much of the state.

      Up to 18 inches (45 cm) of rainfall could pummel the storm zone, the NHC said. Even buildings up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the coastline could lose power and suffer physical damage, Mexico’s National Meteorological Service (SMN) said.

      Despite the looming threat, some tourists appeared unfazed.

      “It doesn’t ruin the pleasure of being here,” said vacationer Angel Avelar, popping open a beer while dangling his feet off the boardwalk.

      “Maybe things will be different tomorrow.”

       

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