Posted: Aug 15, 2013 4:00 PM
Updated: Aug 16, 2013 4:00 AM
Egypt braces for more violence as Islamists call for rallies, police told to use deadly force
CAIRO (AP) Egypt is bracing for more violence after the Muslim Brotherhood called for nationwide marches after Friday prayers and a "day of rage" to denounce this week's unprecedented bloodshed in the security forces' assault on the supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president that left more than 600 dead.
The government has authorized the use of deadly force against protesters targeting police and state institutions while the international community has urged both sides to show restraint and end the turmoil engulfing the nation.
At least 638 people were confirmed killed and nearly 4,000 wounded in Wednesday's violence, sparked when riot police backed by armored vehicles, snipers and bulldozers smashed the two sit-ins in Cairo where ousted President Mohammed Morsi's supporters had been camped out for six weeks to demand his reinstatement.
It was the deadliest day by far since the 2011 popular uprising that overthrew autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak and plunged the country into more than two years of instability.
The Health Ministry said that 288 of those killed were in the largest protest camp in Cairo's Nasr City district, while 90 others were slain in a smaller encampment in Giza, near Cairo University. Others died in clashes that broke out between Morsi's supporters and security forces or anti-Morsi protesters elsewhere in the Egyptian capital and other cities.
Report: NSA spying violated privacy rules or exceeded authority thousands of times since 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. emails and telephone calls, the Post said, citing an internal audit and other top-secret documents provided it earlier this summer from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a former systems analyst with the agency.
In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The Post cited a 2008 example of the interception of a "large number" of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a "quality assurance" review that was not distributed to the NSA's oversight staff.
In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.
Lebanese authorities say death toll from car bomb in south Beirut suburb rises to 22
BEIRUT (AP) The death toll from a powerful car bomb that ripped through a southern suburb of Beirut has risen to 22, Lebanon's interior minister said Friday.
The minister, Marwan Charbel, also said officials were conducting DNA tests on body parts discovered near the vehicle that blew up Thursday to try to determine whether the explosion was the work of a suicide bomber.
The car bomb struck a bustling street in the Rweiss district in Beirut's southern suburbs, an overwhelmingly Shiite area and stronghold of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The explosion sent a massive plume of black smoke billowing into the sky, set several cars ablaze and blew out the fronts of buildings on the street.
The bombing was the second in just over a month to hit one of the Shiite group's bastions of support, and the deadliest in decades. Many people in Lebanon see the attacks as retaliation for Hezbollah's armed support for President Bashar Assad in neighboring Syria's civil war.
The group's fighters played a key role in a recent regime victory in the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border, and Syrian activists say Hezbollah guerrillas are now aiding a regime offensive in the besieged city of Homs.
Facing rising violence, Iraq seeks help from a White House focused on other crises
WASHINGTON (AP) Security crises in Egypt, Syria and other countries are overshadowing rising death tolls and new fears of civil war in Iraq, once the top U.S. priority in the Mideast. However, the prospect that sectarian violence could fuel instability beyond Iraq's borders remains a concern for the Obama administration.
Officials and experts say the White House's attention is focused elsewhere even as more than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in July, the deadliest month since 2008. At Thursday's meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, one of the main topics was flights of weapons from Iran across Iraqi airspace into Syria and back as well as the threat from al-Qaida fighters along the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Surveys show a majority of Americans favor President Barack Obama's hands-off approach toward Iraq after withdrawing the U.S. military from the country in 2011 after nearly nine years of war, at least $767 billion spent in taxpayer funds and nearly 4,500 U.S. troops killed.
But after hitting a low, if grim, level of violence immediately before the U.S. troops left, attacks have resurged in Iraq at a rate reminiscent of its darkest days. A wave of car bombs killed 33 people and wounded dozens others in Baghdad on Thursday, just the latest assault against a fearful public and a government staggering from sectarian political infighting.
"The security situation in Iraq is deteriorating rapidly and is of significant concern," Sen. Bob Corker, top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Thursday, a day after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other senior Iraqi officials during a trip to Baghdad and Irbil, the Kurdish capital in Iraq's north.
California teen welcomed home after family killed mother and brother, fled with her to Idaho
LAKESIDE, Calif. (AP) A 16-year-old girl got a warm welcome home reception five days after FBI agents killed a longtime family friend suspected of torturing and killing her mother and brother and escaping with her to the Idaho wilderness.
Hannah Anderson was mobbed by reporters as she entered and left a restaurant that hosted an all-day fundraiser. News crews were told to wait outside while Hannah and her father stayed for hours. She did not make a statement.
"I don't know what I want to say. I just want to give her a hug," said Alyssa Hawgum, a classmate of Hannah's in Lakeside, an east San Diego suburb of 54,000 people.
Brett Anderson said his daughter was taking things one day at a time. He said he spoke with the horseback riders who saw the pair in the Idaho wilderness and alerted authorities, thanking them for saving Hannah's life.
"Right now, she's with her family and, of course, with some friends, and she's just happy to be here," he told reporters outside the restaurant Thursday.
AP Interview: Va. Gov. McDonnell's friendship with benefactor grew from a shared past
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) For four years, Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and Gov. Bob McDonnell shared a friendship that afforded Williams access to the pinnacle of Virginia political power and provided McDonnell and his family a taste of the good life the multimillionaire corporate executive loved to flaunt.
That friendship is now strained if not dead as a federal criminal investigation into their relationship pushes them in conflicting directions, creating an election-year scandal that has consumed the final months of the governor's term.
"We had a very positive relationship for three or four years," a somber McDonnell told The Associated Press this week in one of the most frank and open public discussions he has held yet on the subject. "Right now, we're just in a different situation."
Williams, through his attorney, Jerry W. Kilgore, declined to be interviewed for this story.
The men became friends in 2009 and 2010 when Williams' then-obscure nutritional supplement-making company, Star Scientific Inc., contributed $108,448 in corporate jet travel to McDonnell's gubernatorial campaign and political action committee. Williams became even more generous with personal gifts or loans to the McDonnell family that topped $145,000, including five-figure checks to two daughters for their weddings and a $6,500 Rolex watch engraved for the "71st Governor of Virginia."
In Oklahoma City suburb hit by tornado, new school year awaits children seeking a fresh start
MOORE, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma school officials hope Friday's start of a new school year will help pupils put the memory of the deadly May 20 tornado behind them.
Seven students at the Plaza Towers Elementary School were among the 24 people killed by an EF-5 twister that hit Moore almost three months ago. Students at Plaza Towers and nearby Briarwood Elementary, which also was destroyed, will attend classes in temporary buildings at least for the next year.
"I'm a little nervous about the beginning of school because I want the kids so badly to feel good and comfortable at school," said Plaza Towers Principal Amy Simpson, who took cover from the storm in a 4-by-5-foot bathroom with her office staff and emerged to find a mangled car on a co-worker's desk.
Since the storm, different students have found different ways to cope with their memories of the mayhem. Haley Delgado, 8, carries headphones to block out the noise of the wind and her brother, Xavier, 10, says he is scared by loud thunder.
Ruby Macias, 9, who was trapped under the same wall that crushed her classmates, remembers the screaming and the crying.
Thousands take part in candlelight vigil at Graceland to honor Elvis Presley
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Elvis Presley fans from around the world made their annual pilgrimage to Graceland on Thursday to pay their respects to the rock n' roll icon with a solemn candlelight vigil on the 36th anniversary of his death.
Thousands of Presley fans carried lit candles as they walked silently through the Mediation Garden at Graceland, Presley's longtime Memphis home. The garden is the location of Presley's grave and also is the spot where his mother, father and grandmother are buried.
Wreaths of flowers and pictures of Presley encircled the grave, while shadows cast by the glowing candles danced along the stone wall surrounding the garden. Soft music played in the mild night, as some in the procession bowed their heads or cried quietly.
Each year, fans of Presley's music and movies come to Memphis for Elvis Week, the weeklong celebration of his life and career. Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, of a heart attack after battling prescription drug abuse.
The vigil is the highlight of Elvis Week, which this year featured a listening party at Stax Records for the recent release of the three-CD box set "Elvis at Stax." Performances by Presley tribute artists and a screening of the "Aloha from Hawaii" television program from January 1973 are other featured events of the weeklong reunion, which wraps up Saturday.
Meal programs expand summer nutrition for schoolchildren who are hungry over summer
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (AP) Four days a week this summer, lime green school buses loaded with games, books and computers rumbled through low-income neighborhoods south of Seattle. Their aim wasn't just to entertain kids but to feed them.
"It's fun here," said 10-year-old Mia Tolo on a recent afternoon outside one such bus, where she played Chutes and Ladders with her friend Anita Velasco after they had pizza, bananas and milk.
Department of Agriculture officials and community leaders cite the rolling rec centers, covered in cartoon frogs, as a novel approach in the federal government's push to get meals to millions more schoolchildren when they need it most.
About 21 million U.S. students receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, but only a fraction of them, 3.5 million according to most recent statistics, are fed regularly over the summer.
"That's a drop in the bucket compared to how many need it," said Bill Ayres, executive director of Why Hunger, a nonprofit that works to expand food programs.
Russian pole vaulter says she may have been 'misunderstood' when she condemned homosexuality
MOSCOW (AP) A day after condemning homosexuality, Russian pole vault great Yelena Isinbayeva appeared to back off from her critical words Friday by saying her comments in English may have been "misunderstood."
The two-time Olympic gold medalist supported Russia's new anti-gay law on Thursday and criticized two Swedish competitors for their rainbow-colored fingernails in support of gay rights.
"English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday. What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests," Isinbayeva said in a statement issued through local organizers of the world championships.
"I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people."
On Thursday, Isinbayeva said: "If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people. We just live with boys with woman, woman with boys."