Afghan police kill 4 U.S. troops coming to their aid at checkpoint in latest insider attack
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan police killed four American soldiers coming to their aid after a checkpoint attack Sunday, the third assault by government forces or insurgents disguised in military uniforms in as many days.
The escalating violence -- including a NATO airstrike that killed eight Afghan women and girls gathering firewood -- is straining the military partnership between Kabul and NATO as the U.S. begins to withdraw thousands of troops sent three years ago to route the Taliban from southern strongholds.
The attacks drew unusually strong criticism Sunday from the U.S. military’s top officer, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who called the problem of rogue Afghan soldiers and police turning their guns on allied troops "a very serious threat" to the war effort.
This year, 51 international service members have died at the hands of their Afghan allies or those who have infiltrated their ranks. At least 12 such attacks came in August alone, leaving 15 dead.
The surge in insider attacks is a sign of how security has deteriorated as NATO prepares its military exit from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The U.S. is days away from completing the first stage of its own drawdown, withdrawing 33,000 troops that were part of a military surge three years ago. The U.S. will remain with about 68,000 troops at
African-American Christians and pastors weigh religious concerns in election
Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.
The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.
In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.
"When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in our minds as to what direction he’s taking the nation," said the Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the predominantly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York. Bernard, whose endorsement is much sought-after in New York and beyond, voted for Obama in 2008. He said he’s unsure how he’ll vote this year.
It’s unclear just how widespread the sentiment is that African-American Christians would be better off not voting at all. Many pastors have said that despite their misgivings about the candidates, blacks have fought too hard for the vote to ever stay away from the polls.
Voters pay some attention to economic figures, but are more swayed by their eyes
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government’s monthly jobs report has become Washington’s most anticipated and studied economic indicator, pounced upon by politicians, economists and journalists for snap judgments as the presidential election nears. But in the real world, most everybody else just looks around and figures things out for themselves.
Is that steel plant closing? Are Ford or General Motors rehiring? How much are those groceries? What’s a full tank of gas going to run me? How much is our house worth? How’s that 401(k) doing? When will I find another job? Will our college-educated daughter ever find work and move out.
These are the kinds of questions economists and pollsters say are on people’s minds more than government statistics.
"People are not looking at these government reports to decide how the economy is doing, or how well they or their neighbors are doing. They know from their own daily experience," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said.
"The flow of economic news matters," but only to supplement what their own eyes tell them, Mellman added.
Israeli PM to U.S. voters: Elect president willing to draw ‘red line’ with Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case on Iran directly to U.S. voters Sunday, telling the American public in televised interviews that the White House must be willing to draw a "red line" on Tehran’s nuclear program, comparing Tehran’s nuclear program to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and reminding Americans of the devastating repercussions of failed intelligence.
His remarks were an impassioned election-season plea from a world leader who insists he doesn’t want to insert himself into U.S. politics and hasn’t endorsed either candidate. But visibly frustrated by U.S. policy under President Barack Obama, the hawkish Israeli leader took advantage of the week’s focus on unrest across the Muslim world and America’s time-honored tradition of the Sunday television talk shows to appeal to Americans headed to the polls in less than two months.
Tehran claims its nuclear program is peaceful. Netanyahu said the U.S. would be foolish to believe that, using football metaphors and citing example of past terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to appeal to his American audience.
"It’s like Timothy McVeigh walking into a shop in Oklahoma City and saying, ‘I’d like to tend my garden. I’d like to buy some fertilizer.’ ... Come on. We know that they’re working on a weapon," Netanyahu said.
The past week, Netanyahu has called on Obama and other world leaders to state clearly at what point Iran would face a military attack. But Obama and his top aides, who repeatedly say all options remain on the table, have pointed to shared U.S.-Israeli intelligence that suggests Iran hasn’t decided yet whether to build a bomb despite pursing the technology and that there would be time for action beyond toughened sanctions already in place.
Spike in complaints about telemarketing calls, especially pre-recorded robocalls
WASHINGTON (AP) -- So much for silence from telemarketers at the cherished dinner hour, or any other hour of the day.
Complaints to the government are up sharply about unwanted phone solicitations, raising questions about how well the federal "do-not-call" registry is working. The biggest category of complaint: those annoying prerecorded pitches called robocalls that hawk everything from lower credit card interest rates to new windows for your home.
Robert Madison, 43, of Shawnee, Kan., says he gets automated calls almost daily from "Ann, with credit services," offering to lower his interest rates.
"I am completely fed up," Madison said in an interview. "I’ve repeatedly asked them to take me off their call list." When he challenges their right to call, the solicitors become combative, he said. "There’s just nothing that they won’t do."
Madison, who works for a software company, says his phone number has been on the do-not-call list for years. Since he hasn’t made any progress getting "Ann" to stop calling, Madison has started to file complaints about her to the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the list.