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Today's News: Nov. 2, 2016

The Cubs are World Series champions, two officers shot in “ambush-style attacks” in Iowa, and more from the United States and around the world.

Ken Blaze / USA Today Sports

—For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. More here

—A suspect is in custody in the fatal shooting of two Des Moines-area police officers. Our live blog here

—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).

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After 108 Years, the Cubs Are World Champions

Ken Blaze / USA Today Sports

For the first time in more than a century, the Chicago Cubs have won baseball’s World Series.

When the Cubs last won the title in 1908, Theodore Roosevelt was president, sliced bread hadn’t yet been invented, and Ford had just begun producing the Model T automobile. Now, the Lovable Losers, dogged by what superstitious fans said was a curse derived from a billy goat, are champions.

The World Series came down to Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians, who have endured a long championship drought of their own—their last title came in 1948. The young Cubs team was led by second-year manager Joe Maddon and shaped by baseball guru Theo Epstein, who ended Boston’s long drought in 2004. They came back from a 3-1 deficit in the Series, winning the final three games.

The Cubs opened up scoring early in the game, with a first inning home run by lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler. Chicago was boosted by two other home runs by catcher David Ross and second baseman Javier Baez. Jon Lester, a starting pitcher, served up three strong innings of relief for the Cubs, holding off the Indians before handing off to closer Aroldis Chapman. In the eighth inning, though, Chapman blew the save, giving up two runs.

It looked as though the Cubs may yet again miss out on the title. But in the top of the 10th inning, with the game tied at 6, after play was delayed 17 minutes by rain, Ben Zobrist hit a double to score Albert Almora Jr. to take the lead. The Cubs would score another run, bringing an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the 10th inning.

Cleveland wasn’t done, scoring another run in the bottom of the 10th. But as Mike Montgomery threw the final pitch of the game, thousands of fans in Wrigleyville celebrated, none of whom were likely alive the last time their team won the World Series.

Canada's Press-Surveillance Scandal Gets Worse

A man sits inside the Canadian Broadcast Corporation broadcasting center in Toronto in 2014. (Mark Blinch / Reuters)

Montreal and Quebec police officials obtained warrants to spy on multiple journalists and editors over the past three years, Canadian news outlets reported this week.

The scandal first erupted on Monday when La Presse, one of Canada’s oldest newspapers, revealed that Montreal police had spied on the iPhone of Patrick Lagace, one of their columnists. Officers reportedly obtained at least 24 warrants from a local judge this year to track Lagace’s incoming and outgoing calls and texts as well as the GPS signal from his phone. Police sought the warrants as part of an investigation into allegations that an anti-street-gang task force had fabricated evidence.

Le Journal de Montreal, the city’s largest newspaper, then reported on Tuesday that Montreal police officials had combed its officers’ call logs without warrants to determine who had spoken with three Québécois journalists. The newspaper did not disclose the reason for the call-log searches.

On Wednesday, Radio-Canada, the CBC’s French-language version, said that Quebec provincial police had monitored the calls and texts of at least six journalists during an investigation in 2013. Three of them—Marie-Maude Denis, Isabelle Richer, and Alain Gravel—worked for Enquete, Radio-Canada’s investigative-journalism TV show. Also surveilled were Le Journal de Montreal’s Eric Thibault, an unnamed reporter from La Presse, and another journalist from an unidentified outlet.

According to Radio-Canada, Quebec police had sought to uncover who was leaking information from within the police department about a criminal investigation into the FTQ, Quebec’s largest labor federation.

The revelations drew harsh criticism from Canadian news outlets and press-freedom groups. “This is a total crisis of trust between the government and the police and this is a major crisis for democracy,” Michel Cormier, the CBC’s bureau chief in Montreal, told Radio-Canada. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Tuesday his government would make it harder for the province’s largest police forces to obtain warrants against journalists.

Montreal’s police union also criticized the leak investigations as part of a “witch hunt” against rank-and-file officers, the Globe and Mail reported. Montreal Police Chief Philippe Pichet defended his department’s actions at a Tuesday press conference, telling reporters the city’s police force “recognizes freedom of the press,” before adding that “we have a job to do.”

Amnesty International Accuses Shia Militias of Torture in ViIlages Surrounding Mosul

Reuters

Shia militias fighting to reclaim Mosul from the Islamic State have tortured villagers accused of being ISIS sympathizers and have tied some to the hoods of their cars, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

The militia forces are part of the Iraqi government’s efforts to reclaim Mosul, which ISIS took in 2014. The city proper has about 1 million residents still living in it, but it’s surrounded by smaller villages. It was in several of these villages to the south that fighters with the Sab’awi Tribal Mobilization militia and the Firsan Jbour tribal militia, both part of the predominantly Shia Popular Mobilization Forces, abused and tortured people starting October 20, eyewitnesses told Amnesty. They said fighters accused some men and boys of fighting for ISIS, took them from the villages, Tasered them, beat some with hoses, with the ends of rifles, and tied some to the hoods of their cars and drove around.

The militia fighters have handed some of the men and boys over to Iraqi forces, and some clearly showed signs of torture, witnesses told Amnesty. Other detainees are thought to be held still in unofficial detention facilities, like abandoned homes.  

“Iraqi authorities have repeatedly failed to stop revenge attacks or investigate crimes by militias from the Popular Mobilization Units, who are also participating in the Mosul offensive.” said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office. “This has fostered a dangerous culture of impunity in which perpetrators of such attacks feel they have free rein to commit crimes and go unpunished.

Obama Says U.S. May Consider Alternate Routes for Dakota Access Pipeline

(Josh Morgan / Reuters)

President Obama said the Army Corps of Engineers would consider alternative routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has prompted recent clashes between police and the project’s opponents.

“As a general rule, my view is there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans,” Obama said in an interview with NowThis. “We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether this can be resolved in way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”

This is the first time Obama has directly addressed the heightened confrontations between protesters and authorities, which has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of people. Opponents of the pipeline’s construction— including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental activists—say it threatens to destroy sacred tribal sites and contaminate the Missouri River, the Sioux’s sole water source. Authorities have defended the arrests at recent protests, which they deemed unlawful as they took place on private land.

When asked about violence between protesters and authorities, specifically law enforcement’s use of plastic bullets, Obama said: “There’s an obligation for protesters to be peaceful and there’s an obligation for authorities to show restraint, and I want to make sure as everybody is exercising their constitutional rights to be heard that both sides are refraining from situations that might result in people being hurt.”

Texas Finally Finds a Woman Legally Innocent of Murder

Eric Gay / AP

In 1993 Sonia Cacy began serving a 99-year sentence for dousing her uncle with accelerant, then lighting him on fire in hopes to get his Texas home that he’d left her in his will. Five years later, her attorney got her released after fire-science experts contradicted the prosecutor’s evidence. And though Cacy was free from prison, she remained on parole, and still technically guilty of murder.

Cacy, now 68, is in bad health. For two decades, Texas fought and delayed correcting the mistake it made in convicting her, but on Wednesday the state’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, declared Cacy legally innocent of murder. Much has been written on Cacy’s story over the years, but here are the main points.

Prosecutors won Cacy’s conviction based primarily on the results of a county forensics lab that found accelerant was used in the death of Cacy’s uncle, Bill Richardson, a heavy smoker known to be careless with his cigarettes. Cacy was convicted, but at a retrial in 1996, her new attorney enlisted the help of a Cambridge-educated chemist, Gerald Hurst. Hurst retested burn samples from the bedroom—where Richardson had died—and found the accelerant the state said was present could have come from compounds in Richardson’s mattress, or in the drapes. Experts also found Richardson had no smoke in his lungs, meaning he probably died before the fire was set. The experts further concluded Richardson had died of a heart attack, which likely happened as he tried to extinguish the fire, which he likely set with his own cigarette. With this new evidence, Cacy was paroled in 1998. But the state ordered reinvestigations and appealed Cacy’s innocence.

Cacy’s case has come to represent two major problems evident in some U.S. courts: Firstly, that once the machinery of the legal justice system had started spinning to convict her, it was almost impossible to reverse, though the state’s case was based on bad science. And second, as The Atlantic wrote in the June issue, forensic science is not wholly reliable.

Now that Cacy is legally innocent she’s eligible to apply for compensation. That could mean up to $80,000 a year for each year she served in prison, and $25,000 for every year she’s been on parole.

Protesters Clash Over Prayer Rights at the Western Wall

Protesters scuffle at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on November 2, 2016. (Sebastian Scheiner / AP)

Updated on November 2 at 2:01 p.m. EST

A demonstration at Jerusalem’s Western Wall turned violent Wednesday morning as fights broke out between protesters over prayer access at one of Judaism’s holiest site.

A dozen Reform and Conservative Jewish leaders led hundreds of people through Jerusalem’s Old City to the Western Wall, known commonly as the Kotel, while carrying Torah scrolls in protest of the government’s apparent inaction toward creating an egalitarian prayer space for men and women, Haaretz reports.

Liana Wertman, who went to the Western Wall to attend the monthly Rosh Hodesh prayer services, said men wearing green vests attempted to pull the Torah scrolls away from the women praying at the Western Wall, while others screamed and blew whistles.

“A lot of the people who were really in our faces were young children … like five-year-olds,” Wertman told me later by phone. “How do you learn that this is so wrong—that women are reading the Torah—how did you learn that this was this bad for you already?”

Noting that women are restricted from reading the Torah in some denominations, Wertman added: “If women aren’t commanded to do it, then in Orthodox spaces they’re not allowed to do it. So that was kind of the protest: We’re going to do it anyway. ... This space means a lot to us as well.”

At the Kotel, which falls under ultra-Orthodox administration, worshipers are restricted from bringing their own Torah scrolls and prayer spaces are gender-segregated—a practice that falls under Orthodox tradition, but is not as widely practiced in other denominations of Judaism.

Here’s how the demonstrations unfolded:

The dispute over prayer access to the Western Wall has gone on for years, culminating in a vote by the Israeli government in January to establish a section of the Kotel where members of the non-Orthodox movements could hold egalitarian prayer services. The deal, however, has yet to be implemented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Wednesday’s protest a “regretful” violation of the status quo and urged non-Orthodox leaders to be “patient.” But many of the protesters said they have waited long enough.

Gawker Reaches Settlement in Hulk Hogan Case

Reuters

Nick Denton, the Gawker founder, says a settlement has been reached in the four-year-long litigation involving the Hulk Hogan sex tape, as well as other lawsuits in which the now-shuttered website was embroiled.

“The saga is over,” he wrote. Here’s more:

As the most unpalatable part of the deal, three true stories — about Hulk Hogan, the claim by Shiva Ayyadurai that he invented email and the feud between the founders of Tinder — are being removed from the web.

Denton wrote that though he was confident he would prevail in all three cases, an “all-out legal war with [Peter] Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight.” Hogan will reportedly receive $31 million under the settlement and Gawker will no longer appeal the $140 million judgment against it in the case.

Indeed, on Monday, Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire, explained his rationale for why he secretly financed the lawsuit against Gawker that ultimately proved fatal for the news-gossip website: “If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system. It costs too much.” Thiel, who was famously himself outed as gay by Gawker, called the site “a singularly sociopathic bully.”

Denton has maintained that Gawker’s work was journalism—and indeed much of what it did was just that: It often broke the kinds of political and tech stories that were the envy of the traditional media landscape. But, at the same time, Gawker made enemies, sometimes outing figures who were not public. Ultimately, it was one such story that was the beginning of the end for Gawker: Its decision in 2012 to publish a sex tape featuring Hogan. Hogan sued, and in March a Florida jury awarded him $140 million.

Thiel, on the other hand, insisted Monday that Gawker did not engage in journalism. “This is not about the First Amendment. It’s about the most egregious violation of of privacy imaginable.”

Russia Locks Out Amnesty International From Its Moscow Offices

(Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters)

Members of Amnesty International in Moscow said they came to work Wednesday morning and found the government had changed the locks on their door, placed a seal over it that warned them not to enter, and cut power to the office. The move comes a day after the group demanded the release of a Russian activist.   

Amnesty International said it received no warning or explanation from the government, and that it was up to date on rent for the office, owned by Moscow’s Department of City Property. Amnesty’s director in Moscow, Sergei Nikitin, said he planned to take the issue up with authorities. He called it “another sobering sign of how the Russian authorities are quickly closing in on fundamental freedoms and the work of independent civil society groups in the country.” The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dimitry Peskov, told reporters he was unaware of the incident.

On Tuesday Amnesty demanded the Russian government release activist Ildar Dadin, who was convicted in December 2015 under a controversial law that criminalizes repeated violations of street protest laws. He is serving a two-year sentence, and complained earlier this week about being tortured inside prison.

Prosecutors Seek Arrest Warrant for South Korean President's Confidante

Choi Soon-sil addresses media outside the prosecutor's office in Seoul, South Korea, on October 31, 2016. (Reuters)

State prosecutors requested an arrest warrant Wednesday for Choi Soon-sil, South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend and the woman at the center of a political scandal that has gripped the nation, Yonhap News Agency reports.

Choi, who prosecutors seek to charge with abuse of authority and attempted fraud, was placed under emergency detention Monday after allegations emerged that the 60-year-old woman had given private counsel to Park and exercised undue influence on South Korean politics despite lacking security clearance and elected office—actions that have earned her comparisons to Rasputin. Choi has also been accused of embezzlement.

Park, faced with record-low approval ratings and heightened calls for her resignation, conducted a cabinet reshuffle Wednesday by replacing her prime minister and two top officials with members of South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party, seemingly in an attempt to regain public confidence. Park Won-soon, the Seoul mayor who has also called for Park’s resignation, said Wednesday that a political reshuffle is not enough.

“We need to establish a new country, politics and system,” he said. “Just changing the chief executive will not fundamentally solve the issue, although Park is responsible for the crisis.”

A hearing to decide whether to issue Choi’s arrest warrant will be held Thursday.

33 Chinese Miners Found Dead After Gas Explosion

Reuters

Chinese media are reporting that 33 coal miners trapped underground after a gas explosion have been found dead.

Rescuers in the southwest Congqing region of China had worked since Monday to reach the miners, just two of whom escaped alive. By Wednesday morning, rescuers had reached the site of the underground explosion and pulled all the bodies to the surface. It’s still unclear what caused the blast, but typically they’re started when an electrical spark ignites built up gas leaking from the ground and into the mine shaft. The mines are supposed to be ventilated to prevent these explosions, but these accidents have become fairly common in Chinese mines.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal. Poor oversight and regulation has also made it one of the world’s deadliest places to be a miner. As part of its plan to reform the industry, China’s State Administration of Work Safety said earlier this year it would close more than 1,000 outdated mines. In this latest incident, safety officials said they’d conduct an investigation into the explosion and punish those found culpable.

A New Clue Into the Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Lucas Marie / AP

The pilot of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 appears to have not manipulated the wing flaps, a new report by investigators found, a clue that would indicate no one was controlling the aircraft as it plummeted into the Indian Ocean two years ago.

Australian investigators, who’ve overseen the search, examined parts of wing debris that washed up on islands in the area—some as recently as June—and found no attempts were made to slow the plane, evidence that likely means the aircraft descended at a high rate of speed before it crashed into the ocean. A major indicator were the wing flaps. Had a pilot tried to slow the plane’s descent, the flaps would have been extended. None were, so it is most likely that the pilot was not able to, or did not try to slow the plane before it crashed. Whether it nosedived into the water or glided is important to investigators because the difference changes the aircraft's final location, and while smattering of debris have washed ashore, the bulk of the plane is still missing.

What happened to the aircraft and its 239 passengers has remained one of the greatest aviation mysteries. The Boeing 777 left Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, bound for Beijing. Since it disappeared, investigators have created a 46,000-square-mile search zone where the aircraft most likely crashed. More than 90 percent of that zone has been searched, and if no conclusive evidence of where the plane wreckage lies arises by February of next year, the governments of Malaysia, China, and Australia, have agreed to suspend the search.

This week, aviation experts are meeting in Canberra to discuss evidence, and to study new drift models in hopes to understand where ocean currents might have carried debris.

Suspect Detained in Slaying of Police Officers in Iowa

Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek (Scott McFetridge / AP)

Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET

A 46-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of two Des Moines-area police officers Wednesday in what authorities described as an “ambush-style” attack.

After an hours-long manhunt, Scott Michael Greene, who is white, was arrested west of Des Moines. Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek said at a news conference that Greene flagged down an officer, presented his ID, and asked the officer to call 911.  

The slayings brought an edge to an area that has rarely seen violence against officers. It began at about 1:06 a.m. CT when an Urbandale, Iowa, officer, later identified as Justin Martin, was killed at the intersection of 70th Street and Aurora Avenue. About 20 minutes later, a Des Moines police officer, subsequently identified as Sergeant Anthony “Tony” Beminio, was killed near the intersection of Merle Hay Road and Sheridan Avenue. Both officers, who were white, were killed in their patrol cars.

We’ve live blogged the developments here.