BERLIN (AP) — A rabbi, an imam and a priest start praying together under the same roof. It may sound like the start of a joke, but hopes are high it will become reality in Berlin.
The three men are working together to build a common house of worship — the "House of One" — in the center of the capital that will include a church, a mosque and a synagogue, as well as a joint meeting hall at the center of the building.
"We have noticed, as a community here in the middle of the city, that a lot of people want to meet people from different backgrounds and religions and that there is a strong desire to show that people from different religions can get along," Pastor Gregor Hohberg of Berlin's St. Petri parish told The Associated Press. "We want to make a point and show that religions can be a cause of peace."
Hohberg came up with the idea for the House of One, and teamed with Berlin Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin and Imam Kadir Sanci. The trio hope Christians, Jews and Muslims will soon study and pray together.
"I believe in the power of dialogue," said Rabbi Ben Chorin. "In the world we live in we have two possibilities: war or peace. Peace is a process and in order to achieve it, you have to talk to each other."
The future interfaith meeting place is planned for the Petriplatz square in downtown Berlin. Currently there's nothing but a few old sycamore trees on a sandy parcel of land that is surrounded by a busy street and old east German tenement buildings.
But the spot has a long history: It is the place where the city was first settled in the 13th century, and for hundreds of years was home to Berlin's St. Petri church, until it was heavily damaged during World War II and eventually torn down by East German authorities in 1964.
The city, which inherited the plot after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has already given its OK for the construction of the House of One.
The design by Berlin's architect company Kuehn Malvezzi envisions a building 40 meters (130 feet) tall with a tower that will be accessible for visitors. The central meeting hall will be able to seat 380 people, with the separate church, synagogue and mosque all adjacent to it.
Construction costs are estimated at 43.5 million euros ($58.3 million), and funding is entirely through donations. In an online crowd-funding campaign, the three clerics are asking people from around the world to contribute by buying bricks for the building for 10 euros ($13.40) each.
Since launching the campaign at the start of June they have received a little more than 35,000 euros ($46,800). The three are also seeking corporate sponsorship and larger donations from private individuals, and the plan is to start construction work in 2016. There is no estimated time of completion.
Meanwhile, believers of the different faiths have already used the future site of the House of One for joint open-air prayers. Last week, around 150 people came together to pray for peace in the Middle East and an end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
"It is very important for us to overcome all the negative news in the world," said Imam Sanci. "I have the wish, for my children, my family, for myself and for everyone, that diversity becomes a reality and that people will accept each other in their otherness."
CHIPLEY, Fla. (AP) — At Seacrest Wolf Preserve in northern Florida, billed as the largest such facility in the Southeast, owners Cynthia and Wayne Watkins say they raise their wolves to become accustomed to humans — and for a $25 fee, they even let visitors mingle with a wolf pack.
It lets wolves become ambassadors for their species, they say, and helps people become advocates for wolves.
"We offer one of the rarest opportunities in the world for humans to see wolves up close and personal," Cynthia Watkins says. The Watkinses estimate that Seacrest, near the small town of Chipley, gets 10,000 visitors a year.
But some wolf experts worry that Seacrest may be allowing wolves and humans to get too close.
Dave Mech, a senior research assistant with the U.S. Geological Survey who has spent decades studying wolves, says allowing visitors to enter a wolf pack enclosure isn't safe.
"They are still unpredictable because they are wild animals," he said. "Wolves are not like dogs. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and that unpredictability and wildness is taken out of them because of the breeding."
A worker was attacked and killed by a pack of wolves in 2012 at a wildlife park in Sweden. A Canadian biologist was killed by wolves at the Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Preserve in 1996.
Seacrest requires visitors to watch an educational video before they interact with the wolves, has trained wolf handlers on hand during every tour and doesn't allow children under 6 to take the tour, Watkins said.
"We are not some little roadside zoo," she added.
The Seacrest preserve grew out of her passion for raising huskies, the sled dogs with a wolf-like appearance. That evolved into providing a home for wolves in need of relocation and later into a captive breeding program.
The 30 gray, Arctic and British Columbian wolves, with names including Utah, Rio, Liberty and Spirit Prince, are separated into packs. Each pack has several acres to roam. On a recent afternoon, Cynthia Watkins sat on a log bench surrounded by seven howling gray wolves. Watkins joined in their howling and pet and kissed each of them.
"Little Red Riding Hood was wrong and the wolf is not the bad guy but indeed a very important keystone species," she said.
Seacrest also provides wolves to education programs around the country.
Pat Goodman, curator of Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana, has worked with wolves for more than 40 years, and said Seacrest has a good reputation for raising healthy wolves that serve as ambassadors for their species in places around the country.
In Florida, thousands of miles from many of the wolves' native habitat, Seacrest uses spray misters, large ponds and lots of shade inside the wolves' densely wooded enclosures to help the animals deal with the heat and humidity.
The preserve is still recovering from a major flood in late April when heavy rains burst a dam on the property, washing out the wolf enclosures. The flood led to the death of one British Columbian wolf that escaped from its enclosure. It was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy after an extensive search for the animal led by Florida's Fish and Wild Conservation Commission.
Stan Kirkland, a spokesman for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the deputy shot the wolf out of concern for public safety after officers spent days tracking the animal and trying to trap it without killing it. He said officers couldn't get close enough to use a tranquilizer dart.
"You are talking about a 90- to 100-pound wolf escaping and we really were out of options," Kirkland said.
The Watkins are petitioning Gov. Rick Scott to start an investigation into the death of the wolf.
The preserve has finished the most-crucial repairs needed to ensure the safety of the wolves, but more work needs to be done, she said. Seacrest has received donations and messages of support from around the world for the $100,000 rebuilding effort.
"All I could do was cry when I looked at how beautiful each enclosure was and how well thought out it was," Watkins said. "The flood was extremely devastating."
GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — Marijuana can go in more than brownies and cookies. And the dizzying variety of foods that can be infused with the drug is complicating matters for Colorado regulators who want to make sure pot-infused edibles and drinks won't be confused with regular foods.
A first meeting Friday of edible marijuana makers, state regulators and pot critics ran into controversy early. Many seem to agree that pot cookies and candies should come with identifiable markers or colors. But what about marijuana-infused honey? Or pasta sauce?
Colorado opened recreational marijuana to adults over 21 in January. Since then, sales have boomed for edible pot, considered a tastier or healthier alternative to smoking weed. Now regulators are looking for ways to make sure no one accidentally eats or drinks the drug.
"I want to know what's a Duncan Hines brownie and what's a marijuana brownie, just by looking at it. Whether you're 5 or 50, people need to know what that is," said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, who sponsored the new law requiring edible marijuana to be "clearly identifiable."
Marijuana food and drink makers helping write those regulations didn't seem to oppose stamps or marks on easily-marked products like hard candies or chocolate bars.
But the workgroup tripped up when contemplating all the varieties of foods that can be infused with marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, THC. Liquids, powdered drink mixes, even meats and cereals can be infused with THC.
"How are we going to be able to make these edibles identifiable to the public, so that they know this is marijuana? This is a very, very heavy lift," said Gina Carbone, a volunteer for SMART Colorado, a group critical of the marijuana industry.
Carbone suggested that some edible marijuana products — such as lollipops or gummy bears — shouldn't be allowed for commercial sale because they are likely to appeal to kids.
"We're going to allow every edible imaginable, versus another approach where edibles are regulated," Carbone said after suggesting some products should be taken off store shelves.
But the suggestion got a sour reaction from industry operators and Singer, all of whom argued that the black market already produces unregulated edibles, and that banning food people want to eat is a bad idea.
"We're here to identify products, not to limit items on the market," said Jaime Lewis of Mountain Medicine, which makes pot-infused sweets such as pie bars and chocolate-covered pretzels.
The panel made no decisions Friday and plans to meet twice more before making a recommendation to the Colorado Legislature in February.
The meeting came a day after Colorado adopted emergency edible-pot rules aimed at making it easier for consumers to tell how much pot they're eating. The new rules require edible products to be easily divisible into "servings" of 10 mg of THC, about the amount in a medium-sized joint.
Colorado's rules already require edible pot to be sold in "servings" of 10 milligrams of THC. But many consumers have complained they can't tell what a serving is and eat too much of a heavily dosed product. Those stronger-dosed edibles are holdovers from the medical pot marketplace, where sellers say consumers who have built up strong tolerances won't buy anything that has a dosage less than 100 milligrams of THC.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
ATLANTA (AP) — Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn wants five debates with Republican David Perdue leading up to the Nov. 4 general election.
Nunn said in a prepared statement Friday that the pair should meet across Georgia in events hosted by non-partisan groups.
Perdue's campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Nunn, Perdue and Libertarian Amanda Swafford are running to replace retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. The Georgia race will help determine which major party controls the Senate for the final two years of President Barack Obama's administration.
National Democrats view Nunn as their best shot at picking up a Republican seat this fall as Democrats try to maintain their majority. Nunn faces an uphill battle in Georgia, which Obama lost in both his national victories.
NEW YORK (AP) — Plans are underway to bring back the two American aid workers sick with Ebola from Africa.
A small private jet based in Atlanta has been dispatched to Liberia where the two Americans work for missionary groups. Officials say the jet is outfitted with a special, portable tent designed for transporting patients with highly infectious diseases.
The U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are helping to arrange the evacuation.
"The safety and security of U.S. citizens is our paramount concern," said the State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, in a statement released Friday morning. "Every precaution is being taken to move the patients safely and securely."
The two Americans — Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol — are in serious condition and were still in Liberia on Friday, said the charity Samaritan's Purse. Their transfer to the U.S. should be completed by early next week, the North Carolina-based group said.
Brantly, who works for Samaritan's Purse, treated Ebola patients at a Liberia hospital. Writebol also worked at the hospital for another U.S. mission group called SIM.
An administrator for the now closed hospital, Dr. Jerry Brown, however, said the two Americans were to leave Liberia on Friday. He did not know how they were being transported or where they were headed.
At least one of the Americans is expected to be treated in the U.S. at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, which has a special isolation unit. Emory said Thursday that it expected the patient to arrive "within the next several days."
The hospital declined to identify the patient, citing privacy laws. The private jet can only accommodate one patient at a time.
The Emory solation unit is one of about four around the country for testing and treating people who may have been exposed to very dangerous viruses, said Dr. Eileen Farnon, a Temple University doctor who formerly worked at the CDC and led teams investigating past Ebola outbreaks in Africa.
The current outbreak in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has killed more than 700 people.
AP Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee and Emily Schmall in Fort Worth, Texas, contributed to this report.
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) — The 12,000 people who fled in fear of more gas pipeline explosions in Taiwan's second-largest city returned to their homes Friday after authorities said there was no more risk of blasts like the series that devastated a more than 2 square kilometers (1 square mile) area, killing 26 people and injuring 267.
With clean-up work underway, investigators were turning to the task of determining the cause of the blasts, the industrial city's worst such disaster in 16 years.
Most of the four ruptured street sections in the densely populated district of Kaohsiung had been declared safe from further explosions by afternoon, a city spokesman said. A fire in a 10-meter (yard) -long section that burned through the night had also been put out.
Five explosions ripped through four streets starting around midnight Thursday, catapulting cars into the air and blasting cement rubble at passers-by, many of whom were out late because of a nearby night market.
That came about three hours after a gas leak had been reported on Kaixuan Road, but emergency services had been unable to locate the source.
Four firefighters were among the victims and two were missing, while at least six fire trucks were flung into the rubble. The blasts sent flames shooting into the sky and hurled concrete through the air, leaving broad, meter-deep (yard-deep) trenches down the middle of roads.
Many of the injured were still receiving emergency treatment. The disaster was Taiwan's second in as many weeks following the crash of a TransAsia Airways prop jet on the island of Penghu on July 23 that killed 48 people and injured 10.
"Last night around midnight, the house started shaking and I thought it was a huge earthquake, but when I opened the door, I saw white smoke all over and smelled gas," said Chen Qing-tao, 38, who lives 10 buildings away from the main explosion site.
The explosions were believed caused by leaking propene, a petrochemical material not intended for public use, said Chang Jia-juch, director of the Central Disaster Emergency Operation Center. Chang said the cause and location of the leaks were unknown.
The exploded gas line belongs to government-owned CPC Corp., which told The Associated Press there were no signs of problems before the explosions.
Propene is mainly used for making the plastic polypropylene used in a wide variety of packaging, caps and films. It can be detected by its mildly unpleasant smell.
The city will do a formal probe on what cause the explosions, said city spokesman Ting Yun-kung.
"We haven't started a formal investigation yet, just a partial one," he said. "A full one will take a few days."
Industrial-use pipelines run through the Kaohsiung's residential neighborhoods because industry preceded the construction of housing, Ting said. The port city contains much of Taiwan's heavy industry, especially petrochemicals.
Video from broadcasters showed residents searching for victims overnight in shattered storefronts and rescuers placing injured people on stretchers. Numerous fires sent smoke pouring into the night sky above the Chian-Chen district, where factories operate near low-rise residential buildings.
The government's disaster response center spent much of Friday trying to prevent secondary explosions. With the risk easing after mid-day, all but 300 of an original 12,000 evacuees had left emergency shelters and just one of an initial nine remained open, Ting said.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu had gone on television urging people to take shelter until their neighborhoods were declared safe.
However, disaster officials were still conducting safety checks on some of the damaged homes before letting occupants back in.
Many of the dead and injured had been outside near a night market and were hit by flying rubble or cars, a police officer at the scene said. Police and firefighters suffered burns while trying to control blazes.
Area resident Chang Bi-chu, 63, described seeing dead bodies along the roadside. "I felt really bad. After all, there just was the air crash in Penghu last week."
Chang said the front door of her home was warped by the explosion and power was cut, leaving the house without lights or fans in the steamy weather.
"We don't have money to stay in a hotel and they're all booked anyway," she said.
Power supplies to 12,000 people in the area were severed, and 23,600 lost gas service. Some power had been restored to homes in the area by late Friday.
Backhoes pulled upended fire trucks and other vehicles from the rubble much of Friday while paramedics with rescue dogs combed the neighborhood for survivors.
Rescuers expected to find few, if any, people in the rubble because no buildings collapsed, said Hsu Lee-hao, a national emergency operations center official.
Large trenches edged with pavement slabs torn apart by the blasts dominated a 2-kilometer area that was cordoned off most of Friday. Burned walls and toppled shop signs lined Sanduo Road, near an elementary school. Television images showed one car vaulted onto a building roof in a particularly powerful blast.
Taiwanese Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced that all flags would fly at half-staff for three days from Aug. 5 in honor of the victims of both the Penghu air crash and Kaohsiung explosion. President Ma Ying-jeou paused at a scheduled event Friday morning to call for a minute of silence.
Much of the drama was captured on closed-circuit television, dashboard cameras and cellphones.
A video showed an explosion rippling through the floor of a motorcycle parking area, hurling concrete and other debris through the air. Cellphone video captured the sound of an explosion as flames leapt at least 9 meters (30 feet) into the air.
One witness said he tried to help before paramedics arrived.
"I was on my scooter just across the street, suddenly there was the explosion, a white car was blown toward me, and I saw the driver trapped in the car," said Wong Zhen-yao, 49, owner of a car repair shop in the disaster area.
"There was still fire nearby. I tried to pull the guy out but couldn't," he said. "Only after the smoke was gone did I realize there was such a big hole in the middle of the road."