Syrian warplanes bomb rebel-held town, least 20 killed; regime accused of war crimes
AZAZ, Syria (AP) -- Syrian fighter jets screamed through the sky Wednesday over this rebel-held town, dropping bombs that leveled the better part of a poor neighborhood and wounded scores of people, many of them women and children buried under piles of rubble. Activists said more than 20 people were killed.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people died in the double airstrike and more than 200 were wounded. Mohammed Nour, a local activist reached by phone, put the death toll at 25. Neither figure could be independently confirmed.
Reporters from The Associated Press saw nine dead bodies in the bombings’ immediate aftermath, including a baby.
The bombings sent panicked civilians fleeing for cover. So many were wounded that the local hospital locked its doors, directing residents to drive to the nearby Turkish border so the injured could be treated on the other side. One person’s remains were bundled into a small satchel.
A group of young men found a man buried in the wreckage of destroyed homes, his clothes torn and his limbs dirty, but still alive.
Army general facing possible demotion for lavish travel, hotel spending
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A four-star Army general who was the first head of the new U.S. Africa Command is under investigation and facing possible demotion
Gen. William "Kip" Ward has been under investigation for about 17 months, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to make a final decision on the matter before the end of the month, according to several defense officials.
The defense officials said Ward is facing numerous allegations that he spent several hundred thousand dollars allowing unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes, and spent excessive amounts of money on hotel rooms, transportation and other expenses when he traveled as head of Africa Command.
A four-star general is the highest rank in the Army.
While the exact amount of alleged misspending was not disclosed, the estimated total raises comparisons with the $823,000 allegedly spent by dozens of employees of the General Services Administration, who were accused of lavish spending during an October 2010 conference at a Las Vegas resort.
Romney tries to portray a president seething with animosity, divisiveness
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Mitt Romney is portraying the outwardly calm President Barack Obama as a man seething with animosity and power lust as the Republicans seek to undermine one of the Democrat’s greatest campaign strengths -- his personal likability.
The president’s re-election effort, Romney said Wednesday, "is all about division and attack and hatred." Obama, Romney added later while campaigning in Charlotte, is an angry man who "will do or say anything to get elected."
Whether by calculation or not, Obama highlighted his most genial side as he campaigned in Iowa, joking with voters about the pleasures of state fair junk food, and joshing with his wife, who made a rare campaign appearance with him.
"It all boils down to who you are and what you stand for," Michelle Obama told Iowans in Dubuque, on the final leg of the president’s three-day bus tour of that toss-up state. "We all know who my husband is, don’t we? And we all know what he stands for."
With polls showing Obama with a slight lead, Romney is focused on the "likability gap" that is evident in surveys that consistently show Obama ranking higher on general favorability questions than on handling the economy, which until now has been the Republican’s chief focus. Romney’s approach also comes as he and his running mate, congressional budget writer Paul Ryan, face increasing questions on a touchy economic issue for many Americans" their stance on Medicare.
Iraq death toll reaches 13 as bombings strike shortly before sunset north of Baghdad
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Three bomb blasts shortly before sunset Wednesday killed 10 people north of Baghdad in the latest spasm of violence to grip Iraq.
The blasts underscored the volatility of the country eight months after the last U.S. troops pulled out. Insurgents, led by the local branch of al-Qaida, are trying to re-establish themselves in their old strongholds and undermine the government.
The first bomb went off Wednesday in Baqouba, about 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital. Police said two civilians and one police officer were killed, and five people were wounded.
Minutes later, authorities said, a car bomb exploded at the entrance of the main market in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. A second blast struck as police arrived on the scene. Police said the toll for both bombings in the town was seven killed and 26 wounded.
The bombs exploded shortly before the ceremonial breaking of the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan, when families and friends gather for a sunset meal. Police said the Muqdadiyah market was crowded with shoppers who were buying last-minute supplies for the "iftar" meal.
7 banks, including JPMorgan and Citi, subpoenaed in rate-fixing scandal
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The attorneys general of New York and Connecticut have issued subpoenas to seven banks over the possible manipulation of a global interest rate, a person with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Subpoenas were issued, mostly last month and this month, to Barclays, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS, the person said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
American and British regulators have already fined Barclays, based in Britain, $453 million for submitting false information between 2005 and 2009 to keep the interest rate, known as LIBOR, low.
LIBOR, short for London interbank offered rate, is used to set the interest rates on trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages and credit cards.
Young illegal immigrants line up to for 1st chance to work legally in U.S. in new Obama program
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Thousands of young illegal immigrants lined up around the country for their first chance to work legally in America without fear of being deported.
A new federal program that went into effect Wednesday could affect more than 1 million illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
A crowd of over 13,000 lined up in Chicago. Hundreds waited outside nonprofit offices in Los Angeles for help opening the door to the staples of success in the U.S. -- a work permit, and later a Social Security number and driver’s license.
High school student Nathaly Uribe moved from Chile when she was a toddler. The 17-year-old from Glen Burnie, Md., hopes the program will make it easier to get a decent job and help pay for college.
Attorneys for Kim Kardashian, estranged husband spar over pace of divorce
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kim Kardashian’s divorce has engulfed her family and network, literally.
Attorneys for her estranged husband sought detailed records Wednesday about her reality shows and details of depositions with her mother and current boyfriend Kanye West to prove her 72-day marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries was a fraud.
The legal bickering means it is unlikely the couple will be granted a divorce, or annulment, as Humphries desires, before next year, attorneys and a judge said during a testy hearing.
Kardashian’s attorney Laura Wasser accused Humphries’ team of overreaching in the effort that has already resulted in $250,000 in legal fees for the model-actress. The acrimony over the breakup led lawyers for Humphries to recently try to serve West with a deposition subpoena --disguised in a Nordstrom’s box --at Kardashian’s home.
Humphries’ attorney Marshall Waller said the lack of cooperation from West’s attorneys and companies that work on Kardashian’s reality show were delaying the case. He said it could take a two-week trial if Humphries keeps pursuing an annulment based on fraud.
Scottish terror founder charged in e-mailed bomb threats against Pitt, federal courthouses
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A founding member of a Scottish terror group was indicted Wednesday on charges he emailed bomb threats that disrupted campus life and forced the evacuation of more than 100 buildings on the University of Pittsburgh campus earlier this year.
Adam Stuart Busby, 64, of Dublin, Ireland, was charged Wednesday with 17 emailed threats sent to the school between April 6 and 21, and also with emailed bomb threats against federal courthouses in Pittsburgh, Erie and Johnstown in June. He’s also charged with threatening Pittsburgh-based U.S. Attorney David Hickton -- who led the investigation that resulted in Busby’s indictment -- in a June 20 email.
Federal prosecutors also announced new charges against two Ohio men, including one previously charged in June, for some YouTube threats that claimed university computers had been hacked. Those threats are not directly related to the bomb scares, but were uncovered as a result of the same investigation.
Hickton said Busby is in custody in Ireland, but it wasn’t clear when he’d be brought to Pittsburgh to face the new charges.
Hickton said Busby has no known ties to Pittsburgh or the university, and the prosecutor wouldn’t comment when asked why Busby allegedly sent the threats or whether they’re related to his activities with the Scottish National Liberation Army, an outlawed militant group that seeks Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.