Egyptian court raises possibility of freedom
for Mubarak; 25
policemen killed in Sinai
CAIRO (AP) -- Jailed ex-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could be released later this week, judicial officials said Monday, a move that would fuel the unrest roiling the country after the autocratic leader’s successor was removed in a military coup.
Underscoring the growing anger over Mohammed Morsi’s ouster, suspected Islamic militants ambushed two minibuses carrying off-duty policemen in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, forcing the men to lie on the sand and shooting 25 of them dead.
The brazen daylight attack raised fears that the strategic desert region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip could be plunged into insurgency.
The 25 were given a funeral with full military honors after a plane brought their bodies to an air base in eastern Cairo. Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, and the army’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Sedki Sobhi, led the funeral.
The coffins of the victims were draped in red, white and black Egyptian flags and, in a show of solidarity, were jointly carried in the funeral procession by army soldiers and policemen. Earlier, relatives and friends wept over the coffins.
Benghazi memory makes U.S. extra hesitant
to cut military aid
to Egypt, officials say
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The specter of Benghazi is affecting U.S. policy in coup-wracked Egypt.
The deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Libya was cited as a reason for closing some 20 American embassies and consulates this month in the face of an al-Qaida threat. And Benghazi is now playing heavily into the Obama administration’s deliberations on how to respond to the growing unrest in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, according to officials.
The fear in Washington: That any significant cut in military aid could prompt Egypt’s ruling generals to scale back their protection of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and other diplomatic properties. The administration doesn’t want to take any step that endangers American diplomatic personnel on the ground.
"We are concerned about our people," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a news conference Monday. "Protection of Americans in Egypt, not just only our diplomats but all Americans, is of the highest priority."
"American government officials, including American military, have been working very closely with the Egyptian military and police to assure the security and protection of Americans in Egypt," Hagel told reporters.
Obama urges regulators
to enact Wall Street rules, three years after passage
of overhaul law
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Three years after President Barack Obama signed a sweeping overhaul of lending and high-finance rules, scores of regulations are yet to be written, let alone enforced. In a private meeting on Monday, the president prodded bank regulators to execute the law swiftly.
The president’s push for action comes as the five-year anniversary of the nation’s financial near-meltdown approaches. The law, when passed in 2010, was considered a milestone in Obama’s presidency, a robust response to the crisis that led to a massive government bailout to stabilize the financial markets.
In a statement after the meeting, the White House said Obama commended regulators for their work but stressed the need to finish implementing remaining portions of the law promptly.
Prosecutor asks judge
to give Bradley Manning
60 years; defense suggests no more than 25
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- Army Pfc. Bradley Manning should spend 60 years in prison because he betrayed the U.S. by giving classified material to WikiLeaks, a prosecutor said Monday.
The soldier’s defense attorney didn’t recommend a specific punishment, but suggested any prison term shouldn’t exceed 25 years because the classification of some of the documents Manning leaked expires in 25 years.
Defense attorney David Coombs said Manning, who was 21 when he enlisted in 2007, had limited life and military experience. His youthful idealism contributed to his belief that he could change the way the world viewed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all future wars, by leaking the secret files, Coombs said.
"He had pure intentions at the time that he committed his offenses," Coombs said. "At that time, Pfc. Manning really, truly, genuinely believed that this information could make a difference."
Manning faces up to 90 years in prison, but Capt. Joe Morrow only asked the judge to sentence him to 60. Morrow did not say during closing arguments of the court-martial why prosecutors were not seeking the maximum punishment.
Snowden journalist: I won’t be silenced by partner’s detention at London’s Heathrow Airport
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- An American journalist who has written stories based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said Monday he’ll publish with more fervor after British authorities detained his partner.
London police detained David Miranda, who is in a civil union with reporter Glenn Greenwald, under anti-terror legislation at Heathrow Airport in London airport Sunday. Miranda arrived Monday in Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with Greenwald.
A defiant Greenwald promised he was going "to write much more aggressively than before" about government snooping.
"I’m going to publish many more things about England, as well," he said in Portuguese at Rio’s international airport when Miranda arrived. "I have many documents about England’s espionage system, and now my focus will be there, too. I think they’ll regret what they’ve done."
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S.government was tipped off by U.K. counterparts that Miranda would be detained, but that the U.S. had not requested the action. The Brazilian government objected to Miranda’s detention, saying it wasn’t based on any real threat.
South African prosecutors: Witnesses heard woman scream before Pistorius killed his girlfriend
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- A woman screamed and then there was silence, according to South African prosecutors pressing a premeditated murder case against Oscar Pistorius. Next, the indictment says, witnesses heard gunshots and more screaming at the home of the Paralympic champion, who says he shot his girlfriend by mistake on Valentine’s Day.
The sequence of events outlined Monday could bolster an argument that the double-amputee Olympian was intent on killing Reeva Steenkamp after an altercation and was not reacting fearfully to what he thought was an intrusion in his home, as he has said. Prosecutors revealed a list of more than 100 witnesses, some of whom live in the gated community where she was killed.
Pistorius wept and prayed in court as he held hands with his brother and sister before being served with the indictment. The athlete will face an additional charge of illegal possession of ammunition when his blockbuster trial starts on March 3 in a court in the South African capital, Pretoria.
The indictment in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court yielded new details about how prosecutors will pursue a case that has gripped the world because of the celebrity status of Pistorius, who overcame his disability to become a global phenomenon, only to see his name and accomplishments tarnished by his role in a violent death. The timing of the indictment was melancholic because Steenkamp would have celebrated her 30th birthday on Monday.
The main charge laid by prosecutors carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum of 25 years in prison if Pistorius is convicted. The prosecution’s allusion to a possible fight between the couple at Pistorius’ villa before the shooting raises the possibility of a motive.
Syrian refugees pour into Kurdish region of Iraq; aid workers struggle to keep up
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds swarmed across a bridge into neighboring Iraq’s northern self-ruled Kurdish region over the past few days in one of the biggest waves of refugees since the rebellion against President Bashar Assad began, U.N. officials said Monday.
The sudden exodus of around 30,000 Syrians amid the summer heat has created desperate conditions and left aid agencies and the regional government struggling to accommodate them, illustrating the huge strain the 2 1/2-year-old Syrian conflict has put on neighboring countries.
The mostly Kurdish men, women and children who made the trek join some 1.9 million Syrians who already have found refuge abroad from Syria’s relentless carnage.
"This is an unprecedented influx of refugees, and the main concern is that so many of them are stuck out in the open at the border or in emergency reception areas with limited, if any, access to basic services," said Alan Paul, emergency team leader for the Britain-based charity Save the Children.
"The refugee response in Iraq is already thinly stretched, and close to half of the refugees are children who have experienced things no child should," he said, adding that thousands of refugees were stranded at the border, waiting to be registered.
Superstorm task force says as coasts rebuild, they should prep for rising seas, future floods
NEW YORK (AP) -- Coastal communities should assume floods are going to happen more frequently and realize that spending now on protective measures could save money later, according to a report issued by a presidential task force charged with developing a strategy for rebuilding areas damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Most of the report’s 69 recommendations focus on a simple warning: plan for future storms in an age of climate change and rising sea levels. It calls for development of a more advanced electrical grid and the creation of better planning tools and standards for storm-damaged communities.
"If we built smart, if we build resilience into communities, then we can live along the coast. We can do it in a way that saves lives and protects taxpayer investments," said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, who discussed the report Monday with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Donovan was appointed chairman of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force by President Barack Obama.
Some of the group’s key recommendations are already being implemented, including the creation of new flood-protection standards for major infrastructure projects built with federal money and the promotion of a sea-level modeling tool that will help builders and engineers predict where flooding might occur in the future. It strongly opposes simply rebuilding structures as they were before they were devastated by October’s historic storm.
The task force also endorsed an ongoing competition, called "Rebuild by Design," in which 10 teams of architects and engineers from around the world are exploring ways to address vulnerabilities in coastal areas.
Fresh from vacation, Obama to face upheaval in Egypt, tricky spending talks with GOP
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fresh from a weeklong vacation, President Barack Obama has to confront such issues as the crisis in Egypt and federal spending before getting back out on the road to sell his economic proposals.
Obama returned Sunday night from the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard. On Thursday, the president sets out on a two-day bus trip through upstate New York and Pennsylvania to lay out ideas to help make a college education more affordable for the middle class.
Stops include the State University of New York at Buffalo and Henninger High School in Syracuse. On Friday, Obama plans to answer questions at a town hall-style event at SUNY-Binghamton before a stop at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. He is to be joined there by Vice President Joe Biden, a native of the northeastern Pennsylvania city.
Obama has a private meeting Monday with various financial regulators to discuss ongoing efforts to strengthen the financial system, including the implementation of the Dodd-Frank law revamping the nation’s financial system and the Consumer Protection Act.
Obama spoke publicly just once during his vacation, against the violence in Egypt that left scores of people dead. The White House is currently reconsidering all U.S. assistance to Egypt, and "will consider additional steps as we deem necessary," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Sunday.
City Hall opens but San Diego mayor accused of sexual harassment is a no-show after therapy
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- City Hall opened as usual Monday but Mayor Bob Filner was nowhere to be found, still out of public view as he tries to survive a recall effort prompted by a cascade of sexual harassment allegations that led the entire City Council and many leading fellow Democrats to call for him to resign.
City Council President Todd Gloria said he didn’t know if Filner would make a public appearance on Monday, the day the mayor promised to return to work after receiving two weeks of therapy to address behavioral issues.
Filner is not obligated to show up but owes the people of San Diego an explanation of his whereabouts, Gloria said. The city’s daily operations have been running fine without Filner, he said, and should the mayor appear it could make female employees uncomfortable.
"Those of us who have called on the mayor to resign know he is not being effective at this time," Gloria said. "The mayor’s presence is a distraction."
The mayor has not made his schedule public. His spokeswoman Lena Lewis and lawyer James Payne did not respond to calls.