U.S. declares Haqqanis terrorists; implications for Afghan talks, Pakistan, captured U.S. soldier
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration declared Friday that the Pakistan-based Haqqani network of militants is a terrorist body despite misgivings about how the largely symbolic act could further stall planned Afghan peace talks or put yet another chill on the United States’ already fragile counterterrorism alliance with Islamabad.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decision, signed Friday ahead of a Sunday deadline set by Congress, bans Americans from doing business with members of the group and blocks any assets it holds in the United States. The order, which will go into effect within 10 days, completes an odyssey of sorts for the Haqqanis from the days they partnered with the CIA during the Cold War and were hailed as freedom fighters.
Clinton, whose advisers were of two minds about whether the designation was the right path, said in a statement Friday that the U.S. will "also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic, military and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organization’s ability to execute violent attacks."
Enraged by a string of high-profile attacks on U.S. and NATO troops, Congress insisted Clinton deliver a report on whether the Haqqanis should be designated a terrorist organization and all of its
A subsidiary of the Taliban and based in the remote North Waziristan region of Pakistan, the Haqqani network is responsible for several attacks in Kabul, including last September’s rocket-propelled grenade assault on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters. American officials estimate its force at 2,000 to 4,000 fighters and say it maintains close relationships with al-Qaida.
Feds: Man who made false airplane threat targeted girlfriend’s ex because of posted photo
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A man angry about a compromising Facebook photo of his girlfriend took revenge against the ex-boyfriend who posted it, making a hoax call to police that set off a terrorism scare and got the former beau taken off an airliner at gunpoint, authorities say.
The new boyfriend, Kenneth W. Smith Jr., was arrested Friday on charges of making a false threat to Philadelphia police, who recalled a Dallas-bound flight and marched the ex-beau, Christopher Shell, off the plane Thursday.
The episode led to Shell’s own arrest on drug warrants after he finally reached Texas to celebrate his 29th birthday.
On Friday, both Shell and Smith posted bond.
Shell declined to comment. Smith’s lawyer, Bill Brennan, described his client as "embarrassed" by the consequences of the alleged threat.
Aide: Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. back home after treatment for depression at Mayo Clinic
CHICAGO (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has returned to home in Washington after treatment for depression at Mayo Clinic, Jackson’s chief of staff in suburban Chicago said Friday.
"He’s at home in Washington convalescing with his wife and children," Jackson aide Rick Bryant said. "Let’s hope he returns to work on Monday."
Bryant said he’s not sure exactly when the Illinois congressman was discharged. Mayo Clinic spokesman Chris Gade referred all questions to Jackson’s office.
Congress goes back into session Monday following its summer break.
Jackson went on a secretive medical leave in June, when family members said he collapsed at home in Washington. He was being treated for bipolar disorder at the clinic in Rochester, Minn.
SC mother convicted in missing son’s case; refuses to tell authorities where boy is
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Nearly 10 months after her 18-month-old son was last seen, a South Carolina woman was convicted Friday of unlawful conduct for refusing to tell authorities where he might be, just insisting that he is safe.
Zinah Jennings, 23, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before issuing its decision, and a judge sentenced Jennings to the maximum of 10 years in prison. Jennings has been jailed on no bail since her arrest.
The last time Jennings’ son, Amir, was seen was November, when a security video at a Columbia bank recorded them both.
Police say Jennings repeatedly lied to them about where the boy is, telling false tales that led them to search places from Atlanta to Charlotte, N.C.
Jennings, who did not testify in her defense, has said she left the boy somewhere safe but wouldn’t give details when questioned by police. Prosecutors played a lengthy police interview in which Jennings cried as she said her son was safe but that she couldn’t prove to detectives that the boy was alive.
Series of quakes jolt mountainous SW China, killing at least 64, damaging 30,000 homes
BEIJING (AP) -- Twin earthquakes and a spate of aftershocks struck southwestern China on Friday, toppling thousands of houses and sending boulders cascading across roads. At least 64 people were killed and hundreds injured in the remote mountainous area, and more than 100,000 residents were evacuated.
Damage was preventing rescuers from reaching outlying towns, and communications were disrupted after the midday quakes hit along the borders of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, a rural region where some of China’s poorest people live.
The first 5.6-magnitude quake struck just before 11:30 a.m. and was followed by an equally strong quake shortly after noon, joined by dozens of aftershocks. Though of moderate strength, the quakes were shallow, which often causes more damage.
Hardest hit was Yiliang County, where all but one of the deaths occurred, according to the Yunnan provincial government’s official website. Another 715 people in the area were injured. Yiliang’s high population density, shoddy building construction and propensity for landslides were blamed for the relatively high death toll.
China Central Television showed roads littered with rocks and boulders and pillars of dust rising over hilltops from the landslides. One image taken just as one quake struck showed people running out of a supermarket as the ground shook.
Swollen creek sends Ohio teen traveling 1,500 feet through sewer drains
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An overflowing creek in a Cleveland suburb sent a 14-year-old boy on the ride of his life this week.
Jeffrey LaPorta traveled more than a quarter of a mile through multiple storm sewer pipes, at times completely submerged water, before finding enough breathing room to await rescue. He was eventually pulled out of the sewer in less than an hour, with only scrapes and bruises.
The teen was riding his bike with a friend on Tuesday through puddles created by the rising creek, which flows near a strip mall parking lot in Parma. He fell into the overflowing water just off the edge of the parking lot and was forced into a drain pipe -- roughly 2 feet in diameter, authorities said.
"The water was moving so quickly it sucked him into the drain," said Doug Turner, a spokesman for the Parma Fire Department. "It sucked him in and pulled him probably 100 yards, full of water, where he couldn’t take his breath."
The pipe carried Jeffrey underneath the parking lot and into the suburb’s storm sewer. He was then shifted into pipes that grew increasingly larger, Turner said. "Now the same amount of water is flowing through there with a little bit bigger of an opening, so his head actually bobs above water a couple times."