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Thursday, July 3, 2014,AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

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Posted: Jul 3, 2014 4:00 AM

Updated: Jul 3, 2014 4:00 AM

Arthur strengthens to a hurricane in Atlantic; hurricane warnings extended in North Carolina

RODANTHE, N.C. (AP) Arthur strengthened to a hurricane early Thursday and threatened to give North Carolina a glancing blow on Independence Day, prompting the governor to warn vacationers along the coast not to risk their safety by trying to salvage their picnics and barbecues.

Forecasters expect Arthur to whip past the state's Outer Banks on Friday without making landfall. One local remarked that he was more worried about his tomato plants than storm damage.

But North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory warned: "Don't put your stupid hat on."

The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season prompted a hurricane warning for much of the North Carolina coast and a mandatory evacuation for visitors to the Outer Banks' Hatteras Island as of 5 a.m. Thursday. Residents also were advised to leave the island. A voluntary evacuation was announced for the Outer Banks' Ocracoke Island, accessible only by ferry.

The islands are linked by North Carolina Route 12, which has been sliced apart twice in recent years as storms cut temporary channels from the ocean to the sound. Hatteras Island is particularly vulnerable to storm surge and flooding and the road is easily blocked by sand and water.

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Corporations are people? It's a real legal concept, and Supreme Court just gave it more oomph

WASHINGTON (AP) There may be more to that "we the people" notion than you thought.

These are boom times for the concept of "corporate personhood."

Corporations are people?

Mitt Romney got mocked during the 2012 presidential campaign for the very idea.

But it turns out the principle has been lurking in U.S. law for more than a century, and the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, gave it more oomph this week when it ruled that certain businesses are entitled to exercise religious rights, just as do people.

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Amid fears about new, undetectable bombs, US calls for more security at some overseas airports

WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. intelligence officials are concerned that al-Qaida is trying to develop a new and improved bomb that could go undetected through airport security.

There is no indication that such a bomb has been created or that there's a specific threat to the U.S., but the Obama administration on Wednesday called for tighter security measures at foreign airports that have direct flights to the U.S.

American intelligence has picked up indications that bomb makers from Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, known as the Nusra Front, according to a counterterrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter by name. The enhanced security measures have been in the works for the past month, he said.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula long has been fixated on bringing down airplanes with hidden explosives. It was behind failed and thwarted plots involving suicide bombers with explosives designed to be hidden inside underwear and explosives secreted inside printer cartridges shipped on cargo planes.

Over the past year, Americans and others from the West have traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Syrian government. The fear is that fighters with a U.S. or other Western passport, who therefore are subject to less stringent security screening, could carry such a bomb onto an American plane.

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Fresh off Iraq success, extremist group tries to tighten grip on land across border in Syria

BAGHDAD (AP) Fresh from success in Iraq, a Sunni extremist group tried to tighten its hold Wednesday on territory in Syria and crush pockets of resistance on land straddling the border where it has declared the foundation of an Islamic state.

Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned that the entire region is endangered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, whose gunmen have rampaged across his country in recent weeks. Facing pressure to step aside, al-Maliki said the focus must be on countering the threat not wholesale leadership changes.

The militant group has fed off the chaos and supercharged sectarian atmosphere of Syria's civil war to seize control of a large chunk of territory there. With its recent blitz across Iraq, it has expanded its gains while also effectively erasing the border between the two countries and laying the groundwork of its proto-state.

Led by an ambitious Iraqi militant known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group this week unilaterally declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the land it has seized. It also proclaimed al-Baghdadi the head of its new self-styled state governed by Shariah law and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.

Its assault in Iraq appears to have slowed after sweeping across the predominantly Sunni Arab areas and encountering stiff resistance in Shiite-majority regions. But in Syria, al-Baghdadi's group has forged ahead with an offensive against towns and villages held by rival rebels along the Euphrates River in the eastern province bordering Iraq.

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Lawyer for Libyan militant tells court she's seen no evidence tying him to Benghazi attack

WASHINGTON (AP) A lawyer for a Libyan militant charged in the 2012 Benghazi attacks said Wednesday that she had seen no evidence tying her client to the violence, but a judge nonetheless directed Ahmed Abu Khattala to remain in custody as the Justice Department builds its case against him.

The lawyer, Michelle Peterson, conceded that Abu Khattala had no reasonable chance of being released at the moment, given the terrorism-related charge he faces and his lack of ties to the United States. But she also argued that prosecutors had failed to show, in their broad and initial outlines of the case, that he was in any way connected to the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

"What's been filed has shown, quite frankly, an utter lack of evidence of Mr. Khattala's involvement in the incident in Benghazi," said Peterson, an assistant federal public defender. "We are left to glean from press reports what the government's evidence is."

Abu Khattala appeared in court wearing a green prison jumpsuit and with a long, graying beard. He listened to the proceedings through headphones as an interpreter translated the conversation into Arabic. Peterson requested that while in jail he be served a halal diet and be provided a copy of the Quran.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiLorenzo recited some of the basic allegations of the case, telling U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson that there were no conditions under which Abu Khattala could be released that would ensure the safety of the community.

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AP Exclusive: FBI looks for victims in mystery of salesman accused of raping unconscious girls

Investigators combing through a stash of more than 50,000 images and videos of child pornography hidden in a bedside table in Matthew Coniglio's Georgia home made an even more horrifying discovery: cassette tapes they say show him raping and molesting girls.

All were unconscious, apparently drugged, FBI Special Agent William Kirkconnell, who viewed the tapes, told The Associated Press. Some were so incapacitated they were snoring. The camera recording the 56 8-millimeter cassette tapes was always turned off before they awoke.

Many of the victims' faces cannot be clearly identified, so investigators don't know how many girls were attacked. But each tape recorded at least one assault some had more in homes and hotels. The youngest victim appears to be about 10 years old.

And authorities' best chance for resolving the raft of unanswered questions ended on April 20. Ten days after his arrest on child pornography charges, Coniglio wrote goodbye letters to his parents, tied a cord to a vent above a sink in his Savannah jail cell and hanged himself in an apparent suicide.

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Tent camps and shanties of Haiti prove fertile ground for newly arrived mosquito-borne virus

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) Within a dense cluster of flimsy shacks made mostly of plastic tarp and wooden planks, a young mother cradles her sick, whimpering toddler while trying to guard against a fierce tropical sun.

Delimene Saint Lise says she's doing her best to comfort her 2-year-old daughter and control her spiking fever during what has quickly become a familiar agony in their makeshift community of shanties by a trash-clogged canal in the Haitian capital.

"For the last three days, her body gets very hot and she's hurting all over," Saint Lise said as she sat on a mattress inside their sweltering home with flapping plastic walls in the capital's dusty Delmas section. "I know because I had this awful illness before her."

This latest scourge in Haiti is chikungunya. It's a rarely fatal but intensely painful mosquito-borne virus that has spread rapidly through the Caribbean and parts of Latin America after local transmission first started in tiny French St. Martin late last year, likely brought in by an infected air traveler.

Haiti is proving to be particularly vulnerable because so many people live like Saint Lise and her neighbors, packed together in rickety housing with dismal sanitation and surrounded by ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry the illness.

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Israeli inventor's tiny chemical scanner could change the supermarket experience

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) An Israeli inventor has created a scanner that he says could change the way we shop and take care of ourselves by reading the chemical makeup of foods, drugs and other items we use.

The tiny gadget is still limited to a few key applications. But creator Dror Sharon envisions a machine that will compile a massive collection of data that will allow users to analyze the physical matter that exists around them.

"We wanted to find applications where people have the most visceral connection to the world," said Sharon, CEO and co-founder of Consumer Physics.

His gadget, called the SCiO, is an infrared spectrometer the size of a thumb drive. It is being marketed for three applications food, pharmaceuticals and horticulture, or the health of plants. Simply by pointing and clicking a miniature digital wand, users can see how many calories are in a piece of cheese or determine when a tomato will reach peak ripeness.

Its name evokes the Latin verb "to know."

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Tim Howard's improbable saves in World Cup turn him into social media sensation overnight

SAO PAULO (AP) Tim Howard left a lasting impression on Americans from coast to coast and fans around the world, really for his incredible, improbable saves in the loss to Belgium in extra time that sent the U.S. home from the World Cup to a country captivated.

Howard is a big reason 6-foot-3, to be exact for the fascination. He has become a Twitter sensation in less than a day, while raising one important question before he leaves Brazil: Will the 35-year-old goalkeeper be back for the next World Cup four years from now in Russia?

"When you're in the public eye, it's part of what you have to deal with," Howard said Wednesday of the hype from his record-setting World Cup. "I've been dealing with it for a long time. It's nice that America knows about soccer now. That's what's important."

Howard's 16 saves in the 2-1 loss were the most in a World Cup game since FIFA started tracking the statistic in 2002.

Someone had fun with Howard's heroics on Wikipedia, briefly listing the star goalie as incumbent "Secretary of Defense of the United States of America." Later, the real defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, called Howard with congratulations and a team invite to the Pentagon.

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Video of weeping Japan politician goes viral following questions on paid trips to hot springs

TOKYO (AP) A video clip of a weeping Japanese politician accused of dubious spending on trips to a hot springs has gone viral, leaving many outraged and puzzled.

The video shows Ryutaro Nonomura, 47, a Hyogo Prefectural assemblyman, bursting into tears, uttering nonsensical phrases and banging on the desk.

"To change Japan and society," he said in a choked voice, stopping mid-sentence, sometimes sobbing so loud he was shouting. "I'm putting my life on the line."

One site for the video drew nearly 640,000 views, as of Thursday.

His news conference Tuesday followed a Kobe Shimbun newspaper report this week that raised questions about Nonomura's visiting the hot springs 106 times last year, using public money.

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