UN blames regime’s weapons for massacre in Syrian village as diplomacy falters
BEIRUT (AP) -- The U.N. singled out government forces Friday for blame in the latest massacre in Syria, a frenzy of killing that raises new questions about whether diplomacy has any chance to end the crisis more than 16 months into the bloodiest revolt of the Arab Spring.
As the violence turns ever more chaotic, analysts warn the effort by special envoy Kofi Annan has become nothing more than a pretense, with government forces, rebels, jihadists and others fighting for power.
"Violence and escalation have outpaced political and international diplomacy," said Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.
"I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. ... All I see is more violence and more escalation, and this horrible massacre is another sign that Syria is spiraling out of control."
Scores of people were killed Thursday when Syrian gunners bombarded the impoverished village of Tremseh with tanks and helicopters in what rebels claim was among the worst single days of bloodshed in the uprising against President Bashar Assad.
JPMorgan’s black eye nears $6B as bank says traders may have tried to conceal losses
NEW YORK (AP) -- JPMorgan Chase said Friday that its traders may have tried to conceal the losses from a soured bet that has embarrassed the bank
The bank said an internal investigation had uncovered evidence that led executives to "question the integrity" of the values, or marks, that traders assigned to their trades.
JPMorgan also said that it planned to revoke two years’ worth of pay from some of the senior managers involved in the bad bet, and that it had closed the division of the bank responsible for the mistake.
"This has shaken our company to the core," CEO Jamie Dimon said.
The bank said the loss, which Dimon estimated at $2 billion when he disclosed it in May, had grown to $5.8 billion, and could grow larger than $7 billion if financial markets deteriorate severely.
Obama says Romney needs to ‘answer those questions’ about
when he left Bain
LACONIA, N.H. (AP) -- His credibility under attack, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney labored to rebut President Barack Obama and other critics Friday as questions multiplied over the timing of his departure from a private equity firm more than a decade ago.
Obama said the inconsistencies, raised in several media reports and highlighted by his own campaign aides, were a legitimate part of the race for the White House.
"Ultimately, I think, Mr. Romney is going to have to answer those questions because if he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is you’re ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations," the president said in an interview with WJLA-TV in Virginia as he campaigned across the battleground state.
Hours earlier, Romney hastily arranged interviews with several television networks in hopes of preventing any damage to his presidential bid. One aide said earlier in the week that any suggestion that Romney had shipped jobs overseas was a lie, and the campaign has said repeatedly the break with the private equity firm came in 1999.
Yet documents surfaced for the second straight day that seemed to indicate Romney played an active management role in Bain Capital after that date, when he says he and company officials say he left the firm to become head of the Olympic games in Salt Lake City.
Dogs and dead people among the questionable targets of left-leaning voter registration effort
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The voter registration form arrived in the mail last month with some key information already filled in: Rosie Charlston’s name was complete, as was her Seattle address.
Problem is, Rosie was a black lab who died in 1998.
A group called the Voter Participation Center has touted the distribution of some 5 million registration forms in recent weeks, targeting Democratic-leaning voting blocs such as unmarried women, blacks, Latinos and young adults.
But residents and election administrators around the country also have reported a series of bizarre and questionable mailings addressed to animals, dead people, noncitizens and people already registered to vote.
Brenda Charlston wasn’t the only person to get documents for her pet: A Virginia man said similar documents arrived for his dead dog, Mozart, while a woman in the state got forms for her cat, Scampers.
Final U.S. audit of reconstruction effort in Iraq says billions of dollars likely wasted
WASHINGTON (AP) -- After years of following the paper trail of $51 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars provided to rebuild a broken Iraq, the U.S.government can say with certainty that too much was wasted. But it can’t say how much.
In what it called its final audit report, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Funds on Friday spelled out a range of accounting weaknesses that put "billions of American taxpayer dollars at risk of waste and misappropriation" in the largest reconstruction project of its kind in U.S. history.
"The precise amount lost to fraud and waste can never be known," the report said.
The auditors found huge problems accounting for the huge sums, but one small example of failure stood out: A contractor got away with charging $80 for a pipe fitting that its competitor was selling for $1.41. Why? The company’s billing documents were reviewed sloppily by U.S. contracting officers or were not reviewed at all.
With dry understatement, the inspector general said that while he couldn’t pinpoint the amount wasted, it "could be substantial."
Experts: Paterno could have been charged with endangerment, perjury in Penn State case
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- If he were alive today, Joe Paterno -- the coach who stood for so long for character and integrity both on and off the football field -- could be looking at charges such as child endangerment, perjury and conspiracy.
Legal experts said emails and other evidence in the Penn State investigative report released Thursday suggest that Paterno may have misled a grand jury when asked when he first heard about Jerry Sandusky’s misconduct, and show that Paterno and other university officials put boys in danger with their failure to report sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago.
Duquesne University law professor Wes Oliver said the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh reads like a prosecution case for a child endangerment charge against Paterno, then-President Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz. Oliver noted that a former top official in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was convicted of that charge in June for allowing a suspected pedophile priest to be around children.
"If you look at what happened here, it’s very clear that they were aware that they had a pedophile on their campus," Oliver said.
Will Spade, a former Philadelphia prosecutor who worked on a grand jury investigation of priests about a decade ago, agreed: "Spanier, Paterno, Schultz and Curley are arguably responsible for endangering all of those kids that were abused later."
Fugitive who shot himself in Wash. bunker after killing family: ‘At least it’ll be exciting’
BURIEN, Wash. (AP) -- Before he killed his wife and teen daughter and retreated to a remote bunker in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Peter Keller recorded a video explaining his mindset: He was bored.
"It’s getting to the point where just trying to live and pay bills and live as a civilian and go to work, that just freaks me out," the 41-year-old survivalist said in a video clip released Thursday by the King County Sheriff’s Office. "It’s actually more comfortable for me to think about living out here, robbing banks and pharmacies, just taking what I want for as long as I can. At least it’ll be exciting."
Keller shot his wife, Lynnettee, and his 18-year-old daughter, Kaylene, at their home in North Bend, east of Seattle, in April. He set canisters of gasoline on the kitchen stove, turned it on, and headed to a fortified, camouflaged bunker he had spent the past eight years building into the steep, thickly forested slope of Rattlesnake Ridge. King County sheriff’s detectives spent days trying to figure out where he was.
They narrowed down his hiding spot with tips from the public, who had seen Keller’s red pickup at the Rattlesnake Ridge trailhead; a photo taken from the bunker that showed outlet stores in the distance; and the work of trackers who saw his boot-prints in the muddy ground. Keller killed himself as dozens of SWAT officers moved in -- an outcome he predicted in his video.
Looking down into a handheld camera, with his head wreathed by evergreen trees and the blue sky, Keller stated flatly: "If I get caught, I’m just going to shoot myself. I could be dead in two weeks or three weeks, I don’t know. It’s all up to chance at this point."