Egypt: 36 killed when detainees held over Cairo clashes try to escape from prison truck convoy
CAIRO (AP) -- Security forces fired tear gas at a prison truck Sunday in an attempt to free a police officer from rioting detainees, killing at least 36 suspects rounded up during streets clashes between Islamist supporters of the country’s ousted president and police, officials said.
The deaths of the prisoners, captured during the fierce fighting in recent days around Cairo’s Ramses Square, came as Egypt’s army leader Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi vowed that the military would not tolerate further violence after four days of nationwide clashes left nearly 900 people dead.
While el-Sissi called for the inclusion of Islamists in the government, security forces detained Muslim Brotherhood members in raids aimed at stopping more planned rallies supporting ousted President Mohammed Morsi -- which the military-backed government says fuels the violent unrest.
The killed detainees were part of a prison truck convoy of some 600 people heading to Abu Zaabal prison in northern Egypt, the officials told The Associated Press. Detainees in one of the trucks rioted Sunday night and managed to capture a police officer inside, the officials said.
Security forces fired tear gas into the truck in hopes of freeing the badly beaten officer, the officials said. The officials said those killed died from suffocating on the gas.
Experts arrive in Syria to begin investigation into alleged use of chemical weapons
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- After months of drawn-out negotiations, United Nations experts arrived in Damascus on Sunday to begin their investigation into the purported use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war.
The rebels, along with the U.S. and other Western powers, have accused President Bashar Assad’s regime of carrying out the alleged chemical attacks, while the Syrian government and Russia have blamed the opposition. Nearly six months after the weapons of mass destruction were first allegedly employed on the battlefield, definitive proof remains elusive.
The U.N. team that arrived in Damascus on Sunday is tasked with determining whether chemical weapons have been used in the conflict, and if so which ones. But the mission’s mandate does not extend to establishing who was responsible for an attack, which has led some observers to question the overall value of the probe.
The 20-member U.N. delegation, led by Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom, checked into a five-star hotel upon arrival in central Damascus. Plainclothes police officers immediately whisked them away from a crush of reporters and cameraman waiting in the lobby.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the team will begin its work on Monday.
NYPD faces prospect of 2 new watchdogs; backers see roles for both, critics foresee overlap
NEW YORK (AP) -- After years of burnishing a reputation as one of the nation’s most potent police forces, the New York Police Department appears poised to become one of the most closely monitored.
A federal judge this week said the department made thousands of racially discriminatory street stops and appointed a monitor to direct changes. And city lawmakers are readying for a final vote Thursday on creating an inspector general for the NYPD and widening the legal path for pursuing claims of police bias.
It’s a one-two punch of outside tinkering that will muddy police work, a pair of complementary steps to protect civil rights or a rash of policymaking that may end up meaning little on the street, depending on who gets asked. But from any perspective, it would be the onset of a new era of oversight for the country’s biggest police department, though the impacts would be defined by particulars and politics still in play.
The federal ruling outlines but doesn’t always detail reforms, and the city plans to appeal it. The City Council, if it succeeds in overriding a mayoral veto, would establish a monitor but not select the person or specify exactly what gets investigated. And a new mayor will take office next year, which could well mean new police leadership.
"The complexity, at this point, is that there are so many moving parts," said John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Eugene O’Donnell, who isn’t involved in the litigation or legislation. "And it doesn’t help that it became very adversarial."
Partner of journalist at center of NSA leak detained for 9 hours at Heathrow Airport
LONDON (AP) -- British authorities detained the partner of a journalist who received leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden for just under nine hours under the Terrorism Act.
David Miranda, the partner of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, was detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, which allows security agencies to stop and question people at borders.
Miranda, who was returning to home Brazil from Germany, was detained at Heathrow Airport and released without charge Sunday. Greenwald says that Miranda’s cellphone, laptops and memory sticks were confiscated.
London police acknowledged they had detained a 28-year-old man at 8:05 a.m. He was released at 5 p.m. without being arrested.
Greenwald has written a series of stories about the NSA’s electronic surveillance programs based on files handed over by Snowden.
Penn State’s first settlement with victim in Sandusky abuse scandal marks legal milestone
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State may never be able to fully shake off the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, but news that one victim has settled and other claimants may be soon follow marks a legal milestone after almost a year of negotiations.
Attorney Tom Kline said Saturday that a 25-year-old suburban Philadelphia man known as "Victim 5" in court filings had completed the agreement with the university, the first to come to terms with the university that once employed Sandusky as an assistant football coach.
Another attorney, Mike Boni, one of four lawyers collectively representing 10 claimants -- including the young man whose complaint triggered the Sandusky criminal investigation -- said Sunday those claims were also close to being resolved.
"I’d be troubled if it didn’t happen this week," Boni said. "We’re not signed off, but we’re close."
Another lawyer, Jeff Anderson, said his two cases are not that near to being resolved.
Fort Hood prosecutors hope to address motive in worst mass shooting on U.S. military base
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- The prosecutors pursuing the death penalty against the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will soon begin trying to answer a difficult but key question: Why did Maj. Nidal Hasan attack his fellow soldiers in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military base?
Both sides offered a few hints so far. Although he’s been mostly silent in the courtroom, Hasan used his brief opening statement to tell jurors he had "switched sides" in what he called America’s war with Islam and he later leaked documents to the media showing he believed he could be a martyr.
Military prosecutors opened the trial by saying they would show that Hasan felt he had a "jihad duty," referring to a Muslim term for a religious war or struggle. After calling almost 80 witnesses over two weeks, prosecutors said Friday they would begin tackling the question this week.
How much they can say to jurors, however, may be limited by the judge. Even though plenty of information about Hasan’s extremist views has been published outside the courtroom since the rampage, the 13 military officers on the jury said they had not closely followed the case and wouldn’t read news coverage during the trial.
Prosecutors asked the military judge, Col. Tara Osborn, on Friday to approve evidence and several witnesses to explain Hasan’s mindset. Such evidence includes references to Hasan Akbar, a Muslim soldier sentenced to death for attacking fellow soldiers in Kuwait during the 2003 Iraq invasion.
U.S. to review cases of Guantanamo prisoners previously deemed too dangerous to release
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) -- As the U.S. renews its effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, it will soon begin reconsidering the fate of prisoners such as Mohammed al-Shimrani.
The 38-year-old Saudi is in a special category among the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo -- one of nearly 50 men who a government task force decided were too dangerous to release but who can’t be prosecuted, in some cases, because proceedings could reveal sensitive information. While the rest of the prisoners have been cleared for eventual release, transfer or prosecution, al-Shimrani and the others can only guess at their fate.
"The allegations against my client are no more serious than many, many Saudis who have been sent home," New York-based attorney Martha Rayner said of al-Shimrani. "It just baffles me."
The Pentagon says the men in the indefinite detention category are held under international laws of war until the "end of hostilities," whenever that may be. As a group, they are one of the chief hurdles to President Barack Obama’s attempts to close the detention center on the U.S. base in Cuba.
For the most part, they have been accused of being al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, couriers and recruiters. After more than a decade, their lawyers say it’s time to let them go.
Recall campaign against San Diego mayor begins collecting signatures
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A campaign to oust embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner began Sunday, as volunteers armed with clipboards and petitions fanned out to collect thousands of signatures needed to authorize a recall election.
More than a dozen women have publicly accused Filner, a Democrat, of making inappropriate statements or sexual advances. The 70-year-old former congressman has resisted numerous calls to resign.
He is set to return to work this week after undergoing behavior therapy.
"He is a sexual predator. He has abused the power of his office," said Rachel Laing, spokeswoman for the recall campaign. "He can’t possibly lead or possibly reclaim his ability to lead."
Recall organizers say they have raised more than $100,000 so far and more than 1,100 people have signed up to volunteer. They sought out signatures at a half-marathon Sunday in Balboa Park, while businesswomen and military sexual-assault victims planned to lead an afternoon march downtown.