Egypt’s ousted leader Hosni Mubarak released from jail, taken to military hospital in Cairo
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt’s ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, wearing a white shirt and loafers while flashing a smile, was released from prison Thursday and transported to a military hospital in a Cairo suburb where he will be held under house arrest.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi had ordered that Mubarak be put under house arrest as part of the emergency measures imposed this month after a wave of violence sparked by the ouster of Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi, who had succeeded Mubarak as Egypt’s first freely elected President.
Footage on private TV stations showed the helicopter carrying the 85-year-old Mubarak landing at the pad outside the military hospital, which sits on the banks of the Nile. He was immediately transported to an ambulance and moved across the street to the hospital.
An Associated Press photo shows Mubarak on a gurney being transported onto an ambulance amid tight security. He was wearing sunglasses and dressed in a white shirt, beige pants and white loafers. He flashed a smile and held his arms behind his head while medics pushed his gurney into the ambulance.
As the ambulance drove across the street and into the main gate of the military hospital, guards, some with their handguns drawn, and soldiers ran after the vehicle, possibly for fear that the ex-president could be the target of an attack.
Syrian deputy PM blames foreign fighters for alleged toxic gas attack near capital
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syria’s deputy prime minister told The Associated Press that foreign fighters and their international backers are to blame for a purported chemical weapons attack near Damascus that the opposition says killed at least 100 people, the deadliest such attack in Syria’s civil war.
Government forces, meanwhile, pummeled the targeted rebel strongholds where the alleged attack occurred with airstrikes and artillery for a second day, violence that was likely to complicate any swift investigation into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths.
Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil’s comments were part of a government campaign to use the horror over the deaths to boost its narrative about the conflict -- that Syria is under assault by foreign Islamic radicals. It is an argument that has powerful resonance with the Syrian public as the presence of militants fighting alongside Syria’s rebels increases.
Rebels blamed the attack on the Syrian military, saying toxic chemicals were used in artillery barrages on the area known as eastern Ghouta on Wednesday. Jamil did not directly acknowledge that toxic gas was used against the eastern suburbs but denied allegations by anti-government activists that President Bashar Assad’s forces were behind the assault.
The murky nature of the purported attacks, and the difficulty of gaining access to the sites amid the carnage of Syria’s war and government restrictions on foreign media, has made it impossible to verify the claims.
Nasdaq trading halts for 3 hours due to technical glitch; stocks rise slightly
NEW YORK (AP) -- Trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange halted for three hours Thursday, renewing concerns about the pitfalls of computer-driven trading.
The outage disrupted what had otherwise been a quiet summer day on Wall Street, and sent brokers and traders scurrying to figure out what went wrong. It was the latest in a growing list of snafus to hit financial markets, though hardly as stunning as the "flash crash" that set off a sudden stock-market plunge in May 2010.
"The market has gotten quite complex and needlessly so," said Sal Arnuk, co-founder of the brokerage Themis Trading.
The Nasdaq, a stock exchange dominated by the biggest names in technology, sent out an alert shortly after 12 p.m. EDT, saying it was stopping trading because of problems with its system for disseminating prices. The Nasdaq composite index spent much of the afternoon stuck at 3,631.17.
Trading resumed at 3:25 p.m. EDT. Thirty-five minutes later, trading ended for the day with the index up 38 points, or 1 percent, at 3,638.71.
U.S. pressed to respond to violence, bloodshed in Syria, Egypt; Obama faces conflicting advice
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. is poised to suspend another major weapons shipment to Egypt amid deep divisions within the Obama administration over whether to cut off aid to the military-backed government. It’s a debate that mirrors disagreements over whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria.
A decision on delaying shipping 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt is expected in days. More broadly, Obama advisers line up along two fronts: those who want more decisive U.S. actions on one side, and the military and some diplomatic leaders arguing on the other.
The lack of a unified position gives Obama cause for caution. But it also illustrates a moral dilemma: How far should the U.S. go to stop violence against civilians if action could drag America into war or damage the Egypt-Israel peace accord.
Soldier convicted in leaks case wants
to live as a woman behind bars
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- Three years after Bradley Manning rocked the Pentagon by leaking a mountain of secrets, the soldier created a whole new set of potential complications for the military Thursday when he announced he intends to live as a woman named Chelsea and undergo hormone treatment.
Manning’s gender-identity struggle -- his sense that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body -- was brought up in his defense at his court-martial, and a photo of him in a blond wig and lipstick was submitted as evidence.
But the latest twist, announced the morning after Manning was sentenced to 35 years behind bars, surprised many and confronted the Pentagon with questions about where and how he is to be imprisoned.
The former Army intelligence analyst disclosed the decision in a statement provided to NBC’s "Today" show.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," the statement read.
Justice Dept sues Texas over voter ID law, seeks to intervene in redistricting case
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Justice Department sued Texas on Thursday over the state’s voter ID law and will seek to intervene in a lawsuit over its redistricting laws that minority groups complain are discriminatory, but Texas Republicans insist are designed to protect the state’s elections from fraud.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the action marks another step in the effort to protect voting rights of all eligible Americans. He said the government will not allow a recent Supreme Court decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights.
"This represents the department’s latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last," the attorney general said.
Holder is concentrating on Texas because of years of litigation over the state’s Voter ID law and redistricting maps that federal judges in Washington have determined would either indirectly disenfranchise minorities and the poor, or intentionally discriminate minorities.
Texas is the only state found to have intentionally discriminated against minorities in this decade’s round of redistricting, and the state was banned from enforcing either law. But the U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring revisions to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 took away the judges’ authority to intervene.
Obama unveils plans for rating colleges by cost, but proposal is criticized by GOP, educators
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Targeting the soaring cost of higher education, President Barack Obama on Thursday unveiled a broad new government rating system for colleges that would judge schools on their affordability and perhaps be used to allocate federal financial aid.
But the proposed overhaul faced immediate skepticism from college leaders who worry the rankings could cost their institutions millions of dollars, as well as from congressional Republicans wary of deepening the government’s role in higher education.
The president, speaking to a student-heavy crowd of 7,000 at the University at Buffalo, said he expected pushback from those who have profited from the ballooning cost of college. But he argued that with the nation’s economy still shaky and students facing increasing global competition, making college affordable is "an economic imperative."
"Higher education cannot be a luxury," Obama said during the first stop on a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania. "Every American family should be able to get it."
Republicans on Capitol Hill weighed in quickly with criticism. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, cast the proposal as government overreach and suggested a state-by-state approach would be preferable.
Bloomberg: New NYPD oversight makes it more difficult to protect city, drive down crime
NEW YORK (AP) -- The City Council voted Thursday to create an outside watchdog for the nation’s biggest police department and make it easier for people to file profiling claims against it, overriding Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s vetoes and prompting him to say the city’s safety is being jeopardized.
Bloomberg said the new oversight at the New York Police Department will make it "harder for our police officers to protect New Yorkers and continue to drive down crime."
"Make no mistake: The communities that will feel the most negative impacts of these bills will be minority communities across our city, which have been the greatest beneficiaries of New York City’s historic crime reductions," he said in a statement.
Proponents see the legislation as a check on a police force that’s come under scrutiny for its heavy use of a tactic known as stop and frisk and its extensive surveillance of Muslims, which was revealed in stories by The Associated Press.
Cheers and applause burst out in the packed spectators’ gallery when the council’s vote was announced. Later, supporters exchanged hugs outside City Hall.