NATION/WORLD

Pope embraces Colombian victims, ex-fighters in peace bid

VILLAVICENCIO, Colombia (AP) — Pope Francis brought together thousands of victims of Colombia’s half-century-long conflict with their former victimizers, presiding over a prayer for reconciliation Friday in hopes of solidifying the country’s peace process and healing still-fresh wounds.

In the highlight of his Colombia pilgrimage, Francis flew into an area once besieged by leftist rebels to pray with victims and urge them to overcome their grief by forgiving their assailants. And he urged the ex-fighters to have the courage to seek that forgiveness, saying peace will fail unless both sides reconcile.

Looming large over the ceremony in the central city of Villavicencio was a poignant symbol of the conflict: a mutilated statue of Christ rescued from a church that was destroyed in a 2002 rebel mortar attack in the impoverished town of Bojaya. The battle-scarred torso, missing its arms and legs, was front and center onstage as a tangible reminder of one of the war’s worst massacres.

“As we look at it, we remember not only what happened on that day but also the immense suffering, the many deaths and broken lives and all the blood spilled in Colombia these past decades,” Francis said at the foot of the statue.

He told the crowd he wanted to come to Villavicencio to pray with them and weep with them, and help them to forgive. He embraced victims and perpetrators alike. He called for truth and justice, saying families deserve to know the fates of missing relatives and children recruited to fight. But he also called for mercy, saying truth should never lead to revenge.

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Giant portrait of toddler peers over US-Mexico border wall

TECATE, Calif. (AP) — A photo of a giant toddler stands in Mexico and peers over a steel wall dividing the country from the United States.

The boy appears to grip the barrier with his fingers, leaving the impression the entire thing could be toppled with a giggle.

A French artist who goes by the moniker “JR” erected the cut-out of the boy that stands nearly 65 feet (20 meters) tall and is meant to prompt discussion of immigration.

On Friday, a steady stream of people drove to the remote section of wall near the Tecate border crossing, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of San Diego. Border Patrol agents warned visitors to keep the dirt road clear for their patrols and not pass anything through the fence.

Elmond Davantes, a software developer from Carlsbad, California, took photos from the U.S. side.

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Winds, fire, floods and quakes: A nutty run of nature

WASHINGTON (AP) — With four big hurricanes, a powerful earthquake and wildfires, it seems that nature recently has just gone nuts.

Some of these disasters, like Friday’s earthquake in Mexico, are natural. Others may end up having a mix of natural and man-made ingredients after scientists examine them. We also always tend to look for patterns and order in chaos, even when they aren’t there, psychologists say.

“Nature’s gone crazy,” mused Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private service Weather Underground. “Welcome to the future. Extreme weather like this is going to be occurring simultaneously more often because of global warming.”

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Clinton book relives Democrats’

agonizing defeat

NEW YORK (AP) — In a candid and pointed new book, Hillary Clinton relives her stunning defeat to Donald Trump, admitting to personal mistakes and defending campaign strategy even as her return to the stage refocuses attention on a race Democrats still can’t believe they lost.

Clinton is unsparing in her criticism of Trump and also lays out some of the factors she believes contributed to her loss: interference from Russian hackers, accusations leveled at her by former FBI Director James Comey, a divisive primary battle with Bernie Sanders, even her gender. She also addresses common criticisms of her campaign, including the idea that she didn’t have a compelling narrative for seeking the presidency and that she ignored Midwestern turf where Trump picked up enough white working-class voters to win several battleground states.

“Some critics have said that everything hinged on me not campaigning enough in the Midwest,” Clinton writes in the book “What Happened.” ”And I suppose it is possible that a few more trips to Saginaw or a few more ads on the air in Waukesha could have tipped a couple of thousand voters here or there.”

“But let’s set the record straight: we always knew that the industrial Midwest was crucial to our success, just as it had been for Democrats for decades, and contrary to the popular narrative, we didn’t ignore those states,” she wrote.

Clinton already is taking some criticism — complete with mockery from late-night television hosts — for planning book-tour stops in the Great Lakes and Midwestern states that ultimately cost her the election. But she writes that her campaign had more staff and spent more on advertising in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states she lost, than President Barack Obama did when he won them in 2012.

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Helicopter crash kills country singer Troy Gentry and pilot

LUMBERTON, N.J. (AP) — A helicopter carrying singer Troy Gentry, of the award-winning country music duo Montgomery Gentry, crashed on Friday, killing Gentry and the pilot.

The crash occurred in a wooded area as the helicopter approached the Flying W Airport in Medford hours before Montgomery Gentry was due to perform at a resort housed at the airport, authorities said.

The band’s website called Gentry’s death “tragic” and said details of the crash were unknown.

“Troy Gentry’s family wishes to acknowledge all of the kind thoughts and prayers, and asks for privacy at this time,” the website said.

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Ex-LA sheriff remains free while

appealing conviction

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca will remain out of federal prison — at least temporarily — as he appeals his conviction for trying to derail an FBI investigation into abuses in the nation’s largest jail system.

Baca filed an appeal Friday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. The 75-year-old had been told to surrender to federal officials on Monday but the filing triggers an automatic stay on that order.