Gatun, Aug 3 (AP/UNB) — Panama has inaugurated the third bridge connecting the country's eastern and western halves over the Panama Canal.
The $380 million bridge built by the Panama Canal Authority two decades after the U.S. turned the canal over to Panama will now allow continuous access for traffic moving east and west.
For decades, residents along Panama's Caribbean coast had to rely on a ferry and single lanes passing over the canal that are open only when the locks are closed.
Panama President Laurentino Cortizo is a native of the area known as Costa Abajo de Colon and he recalled Friday the torturous waits to cross from one side to the other, sometimes during medical emergencies. Cortizo says the new span is a "huge advance" for the area's residents.
New York, Aug 2 (AP/UNB) — Now that she's moved on from being ABC's "Bachelorette, " Hannah Brown is looking to the future.
Brown says she can't be sure what's next, but wants to use her platform.
"I think there are a lot of opportunities out there for me," said Brown, a 24-year-old former Miss Alabama.
"I appreciate the support, but I don't think that you're done seeing me, I want to be able to use this platform to talk about what change has happened with me and that's through the good times and the bad times," she said, adding that she thinks a lot of women can relate.
On Tuesday's finale, viewers saw Brown get engaged to Jed Wyatt. Their happiness was short-lived because the day after their engagement she learned that he had a girlfriend when he joined the show. Cameras rolled as she confronted him. Also on Tuesday, Brown confirmed that she had ended the engagement.
But even though Wyatt made a mistake, Brown said, she believes he's a good person at his core.
"I have already said my peace and so it's not for me to continue to punish him. I think he learned a lot and I know that there's goodness inside of him, and I think he is really going to grow as a man from this and I wish him well in his future."
Fans of the show largely supported Brown for her decision and they've been vocal on social media.
"I absolutely feel the support," Brown said. "There have been times where the criticism feels like the loudest, but I've always felt and cared for the people who have just loved me, supported me, understood me throughout even choices and decision that some people, you know, may have made differently. You don't know what it's like to be in this position so it's been really good to have the people just love on me."
She said she's moved on from Wyatt, but giving up the dream of a future with him was difficult.
Brown says the hardest thing was realizing that she was not getting the ending she thought she'd have.
"It wasn't necessarily the relationship, it was realizing that it was gonna be different, but that different is OK and that I have a lot to look forward to in my future."
Her future may include a "Bachelorette" runner-up. Also on Tuesday, Brown asked Tyler Cameron — whom she originally rejected for Wyatt — to go out. He accepted.
Washington, Aug 2 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump bestowed praise Friday on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following a flurry of short-range missile tests that rattled the region and lowered expectations for the resumption of nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
Trump issued a three-part tweet reflecting an approach to North Korea that emphasizes personal diplomacy. Despite widespread skepticism that Kim will give up his nuclear weapons program, Trump is attempting to coax Kim back into negotiations with flattery and by offering to help him achieve a better economic future for his country.
Trump tweeted that North Korea's recent tests of short-range missiles weren't part of the commitments he and Kim made at their historic June 2018 summit in Singapore , although he conceded they might be in violation of a U.N. resolution.
"There may be a United Nations violation, but Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust," Trump tweeted. "There is far too much for North Korea to gain - the potential as a Country, under Kim Jong Un's leadership, is unlimited."
Trump continued to praise Kim in his tweets, saying he has a "great and beautiful vision for his country." Trump said that only if he is president can Kim realize that vision.
"He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!"
The North's new missile launches came as the United Kingdom, France and Germany — following a closed U.N. Security Council briefing — condemned the North's recent ballistic activity as violations of U.N. sanctions and urged Pyongyang to engage in "meaningful negotiations" with the United States on eliminating its nuclear weapons.
Trump's chief U.S. envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, had hoped to meet Friday in Thailand with a representative of North Korea. But North Korea stayed away from the annual gathering of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has served as a venue for their talks in the past.
Unable to meet with a North Korean official, Biegun met with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to discuss prospects for resuming stalled denuclearization negotiations with the North.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier Friday that he wished North Korea had sent its foreign minister to the meeting. But he also expressed optimism that talks would resume soon.
"I always look forward to a chance to talk with him," Pompeo told an audience at the Siam Society. "I wish they'd have come here. I think it would have given us an opportunity to have another set of conversations, and I hope it won't be too long before I have a chance to do that."
Pompeo said diplomacy is often fraught with "bumps" and "tos and fros," but stressed that the Trump administration remains willing to restart the talks, which broke down after Trump's second summit with Kim in Vietnam in late February.
Trump and Kim met again in June at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. After that, U.S. officials expressed hope talks would resume in a matter of weeks. Despite that hope, the negotiations have remained stalled.
"We are still fully committed to achieving the outcome that we have laid out — the fully verified denuclearization of North Korea — and to do so through the use of diplomacy," Pompeo said Friday.
Rome, Aug 2 (AP/UNB) — A lawyer for one of two American teens jailed in the investigation of an Italian police officer's slaying has petitioned for his client's release.
Francesco Petrelli said Friday he didn't know when a tribunal would hear the appeal, filed a day earlier, on behalf of Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18.
Natale-Hjorth and fellow Californian Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, are being held in a Rome jail while prosecutors probe the slaying of an unarmed officer, Mario Cerciello Rega, who was knifed 11 times on July 26.
Prosecutors contend Elder stabbed the officer during a scuffle while Natale-Hjorth allegedly punched and kicked the officer's partner. The plainclothes officers were investigating an alleged extortion attempt by the teens involving a stolen knapsack.
Prosecutors say Elder claims self-defense and that both teens say they didn't realize the two men were police officers.
Paris, Aug 2 (AP/UNB) — Cleanup work at fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral will resume later this month but under stricter lead-protection rules, amid growing public concern about toxic pollution.
Under pressure from labor inspectors concerned about lead risks, the Paris region administration suspended cleanup work at the cathedral last week, and ordered new checks of schools and nurseries in the neighborhood.
The administration announced in a statement Friday that workers will be allowed back starting Aug. 12, but in smaller numbers and with tougher new decontamination measures and equipment "to prevent any release of polluting elements to the outside."
Critics say authorities didn't move fast enough to protect workers and residents when the cathedral's massive lead roof and spire melted in the April fire, spewing toxic dust into the Paris air.
A lawsuit has been filed, and a union-led collective is demanding the "total confinement" of the site.
Astronomical levels of lead were measured in the area at the time. And they remain exceptionally high at some spots inside the cathedral, and in soil of the adjacent park and forecourt, according to the Paris regional health agency. Those areas have been closed to the public since April 15 and are likely to stay that way for years.
No dangerous levels have been registered, however, in nearby streets, where tourists and residents continue to circulate and souvenir shops and restaurants have reopened.
The health agency released a 109-page report last month detailing efforts to monitor lead levels among the population and in the soil and nearby buildings.
But environmental groups say authorities weren't aggressive or open enough about warning the public about lead levels at the time of the fire.
Children are especially vulnerable to health problems from lead poisoning and exposure, so authorities ordered a deep clean for neighborhood schools and recommended blood tests for children under 7 and pregnant women who live near Notre Dame.
The new security measures for the cathedral will limit the number of workers allowed inside at any time to 30-40 instead of the 60-70 currently allowed, at least until new decontamination kits are delivered in the autumn when the pace of work is expected to pick up.
The main focus is "to ensure that the work doesn't generate any pollution outside the work zone," the statement said.