Nation and World briefs for October 10

2 dead in attack targeting German synagogue on Yom Kippur

HALLE, Germany — A heavily armed assailant ranting about Jews tried to force his way into a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, then shot two people to death nearby in an attack Wednesday that was livestreamed on a popular gaming site.

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The attacker shot at the door of the synagogue in the eastern city of Halle but did not get in as 70 to 80 people inside were observing the holy day.

The gunman shouted that Jews were “the root” of “problems” such as feminism and “mass immigration,” according to a group that tracks online extremism. It said a roughly 36-minute video posted online featured the assailant, who spoke a combination of English and German, denying the Holocaust before he shot a woman in the street after failing to enter the synagogue. He then entered a nearby kebab shop and killed another person before fleeing.

Germany’s top security official, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, said authorities must assume that it was an anti-Semitic attack, and said prosecutors believe there may be a right-wing extremist motive. He said several people were hurt.

The attack “strikes the Jewish community, Jewish people not just in Germany but particularly in Germany, to the core,” said the country’s main Jewish leader, Josef Schuster. “It was, I think, only lucky circumstances that prevented a bigger massacre.”

US moves 2 British IS members known as ‘Beatles’ from Syria

WASHINGTON — Two British militants believed to be part of an Islamic State group that beheaded hostages and was known as “The Beatles” have been moved out of a detention center in Syria and are in American custody, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

President Donald Trump said earlier Wednesday that the U.S. has moved some of the Islamic State prisoners amid fears some could escape custody as Turkey invades northeast Syria.

The two men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, along with other British jihadis, allegedly made up the IS cell nicknamed “The Beatles” by surviving captives because of their English accents. In 2014 and 2015, the militants held more than 20 Western hostages in Syria and tortured many of them. It beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers and a group of Syrian soldiers, boasting of the butchery in videos released to the world.

U.S. officials said the two were taken out of Syria by U.S. military and law enforcement personnel to ensure they did not escape if security broke down as a result of the Turkish incursion. So far they are the only two IS militants removed from Syria by the U.S., but officials say a number of others could also be moved if needed.

Another official said the two men were taken to Iraq out of an abundance of caution, adding that the United States is still fully committed to seeing them brought to justice.

Woman accuses Matt Lauer of rape; former anchor denies claim

NEW YORK — A woman who worked at NBC News claimed that Matt Lauer raped her at a hotel while on assignment for the Sochi Olympics, an encounter the former “Today” show host claimed was consensual.

The claim outlined by Brooke Nevils in Ronan Farrow’s book, “Catch and Kill,” puts a name and details behind the event that led to Lauer’s firing by NBC in 2017. It also provoked the first public response from Lauer, who said in a defiant and graphic letter made public by his lawyer that “my silence was a mistake.”

Variety first reported Nevils’ charges after obtaining a copy of Farrow’s book. The Associated Press typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, unless they step forward publicly as Nevils has done.

Nevils, who was working for Meredith Vieira in Sochi, met her for drinks one night and Lauer joined them. Nevils said she had six shots of vodka and wound up going to Lauer’s room.

She said that Lauer pushed her onto a bed and asked if she liked anal sex. Nevils said she declined several times, but then Lauer “just did it.” She described the encounter as “excruciatingly painful.”

‘Sesame Street’ tackles addiction crisis

NEW YORK — “Sesame Street” is taking a new step to try to help kids navigate life in America — it’s tackling the opioid crisis.

Sesame Workshop is exploring the backstory of Karli, a bright green, yellow-haired friend of Elmo’s whose mother is battling addiction. The initiative is part of the Sesame Street in Communities resources available online.

“Sesame Street” creators said they turned to the issue of addiction since data shows 5.7 million children under age 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder.

“There’s nothing else out there that addresses substance abuse for young, young kids from their perspective,” said Kama Einhorn, a senior content manager with Sesame Workshop. It’s also a chance to model to adults a way to explain what they’re going through to kids and to offer simple strategies to cope.

“Even a parent at their most vulnerable — at the worst of their struggle — can take one thing away when they watch it with their kids, then that serves the purpose,” Einhorn said.

Lights out: Power cut in California to prevent deadly fires

SONOMA, Calif. — More than a million people in California were without electricity Wednesday as the state’s largest utility pulled the plug to prevent a repeat of the past two years when windblown power lines sparked deadly wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes.

The unpopular move that disrupted daily life — prompted by forecasts calling for dry, gusty weather — came after catastrophic fires sent Pacific Gas & Electric Co. into bankruptcy and forced it to take more aggressive steps to prevent blazes.

The drastic measure caused long lines at supermarkets and hardware stores as people rushed to buy ice, coolers, flashlights and batteries across a swath of Northern California. Cars backed up at traffic lights that had gone dark. Schools and universities canceled classes. And many businesses closed.

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Most of downtown Sonoma was pitch black when Joseph Pokorski, a retiree, showed up for his morning ritual of drinking coffee, followed by beer and cocktails.

The Town Square bar was open and lit by lanterns but coffee was out of the question and only cash was accepted. Pokorski decided to forgo a 30-minute wait for a cup of joe from the bakery next door and move on to beers and a couple greyhound cocktails of vodka and grapefruit juice.

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