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story.lead_photo.caption A boat carries schoolchildren and their bicycles Monday across the Brahmaputra river in India’s Kasoshila village.

French end probe of '15 terror attacks

PARIS -- French counterterrorism prosecutors have announced that the judicial investigation into the deadly Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in and around Paris has been completed.

Prosecutors said 14 people have been charged in the case, including 11 who are jailed. Among them is Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect of the group of assailants who carried out the attacks. Three other suspects have been placed under judicial supervision.

The statement said 1,740 plaintiffs, including individuals and legal entities, have joined the proceedings.

The five investigating judges have formally handed the case to the counterterrorism prosecutors. No date for a trial has been set yet.

The Nov. 13, 2015, attacks on Paris cafes, the national stadium and the Bataclan concert hall left 130 people dead.

The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Lebanon promotes economic overhaul

BEIRUT -- Lebanon's Cabinet on Monday approved a package of economic changes and a 2020 budget with no new taxes, hoping to appease the thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets for the past five days to demand the government step down.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the measures as a "financial coup," saying no government in Lebanon's history has taken such steps before.

As Hariri's speech was aired live on all local TV stations, thousands of protesters who had gathered in central Beirut chanted: "The people want to bring down the regime." The number of protesters swelled after the Cabinet announcement, amid intense skepticism the changes amounted to anything serious.

The package was announced in response to nationwide protests that began Thursday and have turned into a widening revolt against the country's sectarian status quo and the entire political elite. The anger over the government's mismanagement of a deepening economic crisis and proposed new taxes has unified Lebanon's often fractious society.

Hariri told reporters that the Cabinet approved the 2020 budget with a deficit of 0.6% with no new taxes. The changes include cutting the salaries of top officials including ministers and members of parliament by half, scrapping the ministry of information and other public institutions and downsizing others as part of cost-cutting measures.

Later Monday, President Michel Aoun signed the budget, which will be sent to parliament for discussion and approval.

Thai king strips consort of title, ranks

The official royal consort of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has been stripped of her title, according to a Royal Gazette statement.

The title, ranking and all medals have been removed from Sineenat Bilaskalayani for inappropriate behavior and a failure to be loyal to the monarch, according to the statement released Monday night in Bangkok.

Sineenat, 34, was the first person to hold the title of Royal Noble Consort in almost a century. Vajiralongkorn, 67, designated her as such in July, three months after he announced his fourth wife Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana as the queen.

Sineenat failed to respect royal traditions by trying to make herself equivalent to the queen, according to the statement, which added that she also defied the royal couple.

"Sineenat's behavior disrespected the monarchy, caused conflict among royal household officials and created misunderstanding among the public," it went on to say.

Thailand's top royals are officially treated as semi-divine. They are also protected by lese-majeste laws that allow for as long as 15 years in prison for those convicted of threatening or insulting them, limiting public discussion of the monarchy.

Zimbabwe drought kills 55 elephants

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- At least 55 elephants have starved to death in the past two months in Zimbabwe's biggest national park as a serious drought forces animals to stray into nearby communities in search of food and water, authorities said Monday.

"The problem is real, the situation is dire," said National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo. Other animals such as lions at Hwange National Park have been affected.

This is the worst drought in years in the southern African nation that also suffers from a collapsing economy. Food and water shortages have resulted.

As animals stray from Zimbabwe's wildlife parks, they destroy crops and sometimes kill people, Farawo said, adding that more than 20 people have been killed this year.

Meanwhile the drought is drying up water sources. The wildlife agency has been drilling wells as deep as 1,300 feet to find water for the animals.

"The single biggest threat to our animals now is loss of habitat," Farawo said. "We have managed to significantly reduce poaching ... we were losing hundreds of elephants in past years, but last year we only lost not more than 20 to poaching."

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

A Bradley infantry fighting vehicle is unloaded Monday as a U.S. Army armored battalion arrives at the railway station in Pabrade, Lithuania. The U.S. military said it’s preparing for exercises early next year in Europe that will involve 20,000 American soldiers.

A Section on 10/22/2019

Print Headline: French end probe of '15 terror attacks Lebanon promotes economic overhaul Thai king strips consort of title, ranks Zimbabwe drought kills 55 elephants


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