Pentagon: book on bin Laden raid contains classified data, SEAL leader condemns book
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former Navy SEAL’s insider account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden contains classified information, the Pentagon said Tuesday, and the admiral who heads the Naval Special Warfare Command said details in the book may provide enemies with dangerous insight into secretive U.S. operations.
Rear Adm. Sean Pybus told his force Tuesday that "hawking details about a mission" and selling other information about SEAL training and operations puts the force and their families at risk.
"For an elite force that should be humble and disciplined for life, we are certainly not appearing to be so," Pybus wrote in a letter to the roughly 8,000 troops under his command. "We owe our chain of command much better than this."
The letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
At the Pentagon, press secretary George Little said that an official review of the book, "No Easy Day," determined that it reveals what he called "sensitive and classified" information. He was not more specific but said the author was required to submit the book to the Pentagon before publication for a formal review of potential disclosures of such information.
More than 100,000 Syrians fled country in August as signs point to more misery
BEIRUT (AP) -- More than 100,000 Syrians fled their country in August, the highest
That exodus sharply increased the number of Syrians now living in neighboring countries, bringing the total number of refugees to 234,368 in the past 17 months, the agency said.
Along with activists’ reports that the death toll in August was also the highest in the civil war with 5,000 killed, all signs are pointing to unprecedented levels of misery in a country where President Bashar Assad’s regime is fighting an increasingly violent rebellion.
"If you do the math, it’s quite an astonishing number," U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said of the number of people who fled in August, speaking to reporters Tuesday in Geneva.
"And it points to a significant escalation in refugee movement and people seeking asylum, and probably points to a very precarious and violent situation inside the country," she said.
Romney campaign, RNC raise $100 million in third consecutive month
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has raised at least $100 million in August, The Associated Press has learned, hitting that mark for a third consecutive month with a fundraising prowess that has let him outraise President Barack Obama so far this summer.
The early numbers, which include money raised by the national Republican Party, will be publicly released next week. They were described by two people familiar with the figures who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share internal campaign matters.
The numbers were revealed on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where delegates will nominate Obama for a second term. Federal records show that Romney and the GOP have pulled in more cash than Obama’s re-election effort in May, June and July, including money collected by the Democratic Party.
It is usually difficult for a challenger to raise more money than an incumbent holding a major elective office, particularly in a presidential race.
The figures exclude tens of millions of dollars that outside "super" political action committees are pouring into the race to help Romney. Those groups have been largely bankrolled by wealthy Americans, thanks to changes in recent years that have loosened campaign-finance regulations.
Judge: Mass. must provide sex-change surgery for convict who now lives as woman
BOSTON (AP) -- State prison officials must provide taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate serving life in prison for murder, because it is the only way to treat her "serious medical need," a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Michelle Kosilek was born male but has received hormone treatments and now lives as a woman in an all-male prison. Robert Kosilek was convicted of murder in the killing of his wife in 1990.
U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf is believed to be the first federal judge to order prison officials to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate.
Kosilek first sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago. Two years later, Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder but stopped short of ordering surgery. Kosilek sued again in 2005, arguing that the surgery is a medical necessity.
In his 126-page ruling Tuesday, Wolf found that surgery is the "only adequate treatment" for Kosilek and that "there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care."
Southern La. residents blame flood fortress around New Orleans for their flooding
LAPLACE, La. (AP) -- At the urging of residents who have long felt forgotten in the shadow of more densely populated New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers says it will look into whether the city’s fortified defenses pushed floodwaters into outlying areas.
However, the Corps has said it’s unlikely scientific analysis will confirm that theory suggested not only by locals, but by some of the state’s most powerful politicians. Instead, weather experts say a unique set of circumstances about the storm -- not the floodwalls surrounding the New Orleans metro area -- had more to do with flooding neighborhoods that in recent years have never been under water because of storm surge.
Isaac was a large, slow-moving storm that wobbled across the state’s coast for about two and a half days, pumping water into back bays and lakes and leaving thousands of residents under water outside the massive levee system protecting metropolitan New Orleans. It was blamed for seven deaths and damaged thousands of homes on the Gulf Coast.
The Corps’ study was prompted by the suggestion that Isaac’s surge bounced off the levees and floodgates built since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and walloped communities outside the city’s ramparts.
Blaming the Army Corps of Engineers is nothing new in southern Louisiana, a region that is both dependent on the Corps and by instinct distrustful of an agency that wields immense power in this world of harbors, wetlands, rivers and lakes, all of which fall under the agency’s jurisdiction.
Komen insider’s book faults both sides in charity’s rift with Planned Parenthood
NEW YORK (AP) -- Criticizing major players on both sides, former Susan G. Komen for the Cure vice president Karen Handel has written a blistering insider’s account of the prominent cancer charity’s decision to halt grants to Planned Parenthood and its swift retreat in the face of an intense, widespread backlash.
Titled "Planned Bullyhood" and due for publication on Sept. 11, the book depicts Planned Parenthood as an aggressive, partisan organization that was willing to weaken Komen to further a liberal political agenda. However, Handel -- a conservative who resigned from Komen after its reversal -- also assails Komen’s leadership as indecisive, timid and politically naive, and says the hasty decision to backtrack was "a terrible mistake."
Handel was hired by Komen as vice president for public policy in April 2011 after losing a Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia, and was given the task of figuring out how to disengage Komen from Planned Parenthood. The grants from Komen were for breast-cancer education and screening, but the charity was under increasing pressure from anti-abortion groups and religious conservatives to cut all ties with Planned Parenthood because, in addition to its other services, it is the nation’s leading provider of abortion.
Late in 2011, Komen made a final decision to halt the grants, which totaled $680,000 that year, and its president, Liz Thompson, informed Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, of the decision in mid-December. However, the rift did not become public knowledge until Jan. 31, when The Associated Press broke the news.
Reaction was immediate and passionate. Twitter and Facebook were flooded with denunciations of Komen’s action. Democratic members of Congress urged Komen to reconsider, as did some of Komen’s own affiliates. Planned Parenthood accused Komen of bowing to right-wing bullying and eagerly mobilized its supporters, raising $3 million in donations within days of the news report.
Gadget makers unveil holiday lineups, look for edge as new iPhone, new Windows near
NEW YORK (AP) -- Think of it as the opening act at a concert: Nokia, Motorola and Amazon are expected to unveil new mobile devices this week before attention turns to a new iPhone and possibly a smaller iPad from Apple.
Makers of consumer electronics are refreshing their products for the holiday shopping season. Apple’s rivals are hoping that a head start on the buzz will translate into stronger sales. Nokia and Microsoft, in particular, are trying to generate interest in a new Windows operating system out next month.
Apple dominates the market for tablet computers. Seven out of every 10 tablets shipped in the second quarter were iPads, according to research firm IHS iSuppli. Rivals have been trying to compete with smaller, cheaper models -- such as the Kindle Fire, which Amazon is expected to update on Thursday. Now, there’s speculation that Apple will be coming out with a smaller iPad as well.
Sales of Apple’s iPhones are still strong, though the company lost the lead in smartphones to Samsung this year. Samsung Electronics Co. benefited from having its Galaxy S III out in the U.S. in June, while Apple was still selling an iPhone model released last October. A new iPhone is expected as early as this month, allowing Apple to recapture the attention and the revenue.